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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

> Perak Speaker quizzed by police

Police today questioned Perak State Speaker V Sivakumar for two hours over reports lodged against him in relation to political developments in the state.

The questioning was conducted by three officers officers from the state commercial crimes department from 3.20pm at the office of law firm Chan & Associates along Jalan Tun Sambanthan here.

A statement was also taken from Sivakumar who had engaged two lawyers Chan Kok Keong and Augustine Anthony as his counsel.

However the police did not allow the lawyers to be present during the questioning which was done in the library of Chan’s office.

According to Chan, the police initially said they wanted to question Sivakumar over a report lodged by Jelapang assemblywoman Hee Yit Foong (who has since quit the DAP to become a Barisan Nasional-friendly independent) against Sivakumar.

However, when the lawyers asked to see the report, the police declined to show it, Chan said, adding that instead of investigating Hee's report, police started questioning Sivakumar on other reports lodged against him.

Chan said he had advised Sivakumar that he need not answer their questions as he is protected under Item Three of the Legislative Assembly (privileges) Enactment 1959 which provides that "No member shall be liable to any civil or criminal proceedings, arrest, imprisonment, or damages by reason of any matter or thing which he may have brought by petition, bill, resolution, motion or otherwise, or have said before the Assembly or any committee."

However, Sivakumar chose to cooperate with the police and attended the session.

After the interview ended at 5.20pm, the police officers left, carrying a printer which was used to print the statement made by Sivakumar.

A visibly-tired Sivakumar -- who had made headlines last week when he suspended Mentri Besar Datuk Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir and his six executive council members for 18 and 12 months respectively for contempt of the Assembly -- emerged five minutes later and told a large group of reporters that any investigation by the police against any member of the assembly in his capacity as legislator violates existing laws.

"The Legislative Assembly (Privileges) Enactment 1959 read together with Article 72 of the Federal Constitution makes it clear that the conduct of any member of the Legislative Assembly in his/her capacity as a member and the validity of their proceedings are absolutely protected by immunity from civil or criminal proceedings for anything said or done," he said in a statement.

As such, he called on the police to cease all investigations against him or any of the assembly members.

However, he said in the meeting with the police officers, he had given his "fullest co-operation, to the extent that my co-operation does not infringe or violate any provisions of the laws of this country".

Neither the police nor Sivakumar would reveal what exactly he was questioned on.

Sivakumar's press statement was distributed by one of his aides after he left hurriedly saying he had to attend another function.

Last Wednesday, Perak state assembly's committee of rights and privileges chaired by Sivakumar handed down the suspensions, throwing the state deeper into a constitutional and political crisis. Many constitutional lawyers have given their opinion on whether Sivakumar had the power to do what he did and Zambry has set up a legal team to advise him on his next course of action.

The only thing clear is that Sivakumar has to convene the state assembly to endorse the decision as the assembly was not in session when the committee met. He had written to the Sultan of Perak last week for consent to convene a special meeting - theSun.