Struggle for power in Perak: A test of the Constitution

The ‘political standoff’ in Perak since January is really mind boggling to the majority of the rakyat. This morning, the State Assembly will convene since 13 November 2008 and one of the agenda is to endorse the appointment of Pangkor ADUN Dato’ Seri Zambry Abd. Kadir, who was sworn in by HRH Paduka Seri Sultan  Perak Tuanku Sultan Azlan Shah on 6 February 2009.

Unlike the previous ‘sitting’, deemed illegal, which was called by the Speaker Suvakumar without proper notification period and expressed consent from HRH Paduka Seri Sultan and had to be conducted under a tree (to create the drama effect), this morning’s sitting is in accordance with provisions of the Perak State Constitution and protocol of the State Assembly.  Proper notice from the State Assembly Secretary  was issued and with explicit consent of HRH Paduka Seri Sultan and conducted in the augur house in full regalia and traditions.

The previous Menteri Besar, DAP-puppet MB Dato’ Seri Mohd. Nizar Jamaluddin lost his qualifications as the state Chief Executive when  HRH Paduka Seri Sultan personally interviewed the three Pakatan Rakyat (PR) ADUNs, who denounced their support for the former and the latter was convinced that BN had the majority support in the State Assembly.

Yesterday, Fourth Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad cautioned about the nation should observe what is provided and stated within the Federal and State Constitution. These are the basis of any legitimate decisions and/or actions that anyone could and should make.

The Star has the story:

Thursday May 7, 2009

A ruler can’t remove head of state govt, says Mahathir

PUTRAJAYA: The head of a state government cannot be removed by the state’s ruler if provisions under the state constitution are the same as those under the Federal constitution, former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said.

He said the Federal constitution stated clearly that the monarch could decide on whether or not to appoint an individual as the Prime Minister, but did not have the power to remove the premier. The Prime Minister can only be removed through a vote of no-confidence in Parliament.

“I think the provisions in the Federal constitution should apply to Perak but I do not know (the Perak state constitution). If Perak is different, then I stand corrected,” he said at a press conference after delivering his keynote address on ‘The Role of the Executive, Legislative, Judiciary and Constitutional Monarchy’ at the ninth Perdana Discourse Series here yesterday.

Asked if he thought there had been any abuse of the system in the removal of former Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin by Sultan Azlan Shah of Perak, he said the matter had been referred to court and the court should be allowed to decide.

Dr Mahathir said he also felt Barisan Nasional had rushed into taking over the Perak state government when it should have taken the time to consider the decision properly before acting.

“When we are in too much of a hurry, we always make mistakes. In any situation, always give yourself time to think,” he said.

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What happened in Perak in February 2009 is the same thing that happened in March 2008. The 12th General Elections saw BN only managed to win 28 seats of the 59 seat State Assembly. The other 31 seats went to DAP, PKR and PAS. Since BN was the only party constituted as a coalition between several political parties and the other 31 newly elected ADUNs comprises of three different political parties, which working relationship has not be formalized, HRH Paduka Seri Sultan decided to not hastily appoint the 9th Menteri Besar.

After meeting up with the 31 Non BN ADUNs, HRH Paduka Seri Sultan is convinced that BN no longer have majority control of the house and the position of the Perak Menteri Besar was offered to the three loosely ‘co-operating’ parties. After much horse-trading, the three political parties nominated Pasir Panjang ADUN Ir Mohd. Nizar Jamaluddin as the Menteri Besar and HRH Paduka Seri Sultan sworn him in.

That is exactly what HRH Paduka Seri Sultan did in February when DAP-puppet MB Nizar sought audience and requested to dissolve the State Assembly, after the 2 PKR and 1 DAP ADUNs openly threw their support behind BN. HRH Paduka Seri Sultan did not automatically honour the request but instead personally interviewed the three ADUNs and was convinced that DAP-puppet MB Nizar no longer enjoy the majority control of the Perak State Assembly and ruled within the provisions of the Perak Constitution that DAP-puppet MB Nizar lost his qualifications as the Menteri Besar. Someone with the support of the majority should be appointed instead. Hence,  after consultation with then DPM Dato’ Seri Mohd. Najib Tun Razak, who was acting in the capacity of Perak UMNO and BN Liaison Chairman, Pangkor ADUN Dato Dr. Zambry  Abd. Kadir was offered the position.

The fact is that, it was said that HRH Paduka Seri Sultan Azlan Shah acted in accordance to the Article 16 (6) of the Perak Constitution and was very consistent in the approach and method to ascertain which party has the constitutional right to power in the state. Despite reminding that everything should be done in accordance with the Federal and State Constitutions his speech and media conference yesterday, Tun Dr. Mahathir also admitted that he was not conversant with the Perak Constitution. He also ask for everyone to wait for the Courts’ decision on this landmark case.

Being the former Lord President of the Supreme Court of Malaysia, HRH Paduka Seri Sultan Azlah Shah must have considered all the provisions within the Perak and Federal Constitution before making any decision, be it in March 2008 or February 2009. Since he was the Lord President before Tun Salleh Abas’s expulsion from the Bench in 1988, his credentials as someone who can interpret the law should be somewhat of nothing short of an illustrious standing (The Oppositions have been very rabid on how everyone post Tun Salleh Abas’s expulsion as the Lord President in 1988 are ‘of doubtful standing and qualifications’). Everyone must take in good faith that HRH Paduka Seri Sultan Azlan Shah carefully considered all points and arguments before making a decision, as how it was when he sat as the Lord President, Chief Judge of Malaya, Supreme Court Judge and High Court Judge. By far, Raja Azlan Shah was the youngest person ever appointed as a High Court Judge in Malaya, at the age of 37 and had an illustrious career on bench, only to leave because of the ascension to the Perak throne. He was also the eighth HM Seri Paduka Baginda Yang DiPertuan Agong.

We share the same concern of what Tun Dr. Mahathir reminded, for the second time. UMNO and BN should carefully plan on their strategies and actions. This is important as any changeover control and management of any state must be in accordance with the Constitution. The Federal Constitution encompasses any provisions of the State Constitution and the practice of ascending to power. In the essence of carpe diem that spun off from the defection of BN Bota ADUN (which suspiciously look like there was no careful planning and execution), BN may not be able to hold grounds as the way of the ascension into power is not within the constitution and when it is overturned, the disgrace that UMNO and BN have got to face up could be strategically devastating.

The case is now being heard in the Courts.  For the first time in Malaysian 52 years of constitutional history as a sovereign state, the interpretation of a state constitution and action of a Ruler is being challenged. As for the PR biadap and ingkar trouble makers, the authorities should decisively reprimand them in accordance to the limit of the law and HRH Paduka Seri Sultan should seriously consider to revoke all the state awards. If they do things that are detrimental to national security, which include sedition, then throw the book at them. Even invoking the dreaded Internal Security Act is constitutional.

Published in: on May 7, 2009 at 09:06  Comments (11)