THE JOURNAL consists of selected, most notable and newsworthy POSTINGS OF THE DAY.

Monday, February 23, 2009

> Speaker has absolute immunity


Ousted Perak menteri besar Mohd Nizar Jamaluddin and his family today vacated the MB’s official residence in Ipoh, two weeks after the Pakatan government collapsed.

While Mohd Nizar, his wife and seven children have moved into a private home, the PAS leader vowed that he was not giving up on his claim to the state government.

According to him, the ousted Perak government will now work from Pakatan offices.

Yesterday, Mohd Nizar told a rally that the Pakatan Rakyat coalition was merely using the state assembly speaker’s wide-ranging powers formulated by Barisan Nasional, to suspend new menteri besar Zambry Abdul Kadir and his cabinet members.

In hiis speech, delivered last night at Felcra Serigala in Slim River before 1,000 people, Mohd Nizar said that Pakatan has now "decapitate" BN as the coalition controls 28 seats compared to 21 following the suspension.

"Given this, Pakatan is the valid government to administer Perak," Mohd Nizar said as reported by Harakah daily today.

"Today, if we want to topple the new government, we can do it... They forget that the powers given to the speaker by BN 50 years ago, is what we used against them now."

Felcra Serigala is located in the Behrang state seat held by one of the four Pakatan defectors, Jamaluddin Mohd Radzi, who left PKR to become a BN-friendly Independent.

Speaker requests sultan to reconvene assembly

Mohd Nizar emphasised that he is still the legitimate menteri besar who was appointed by the sultan.

"I still keep the appointment letter, and the instruments of power which has never been cancelled. The instrument and appointment was witnessed by the sultan and the High Court judge.

"I can only relinquish my post through three ways - by resigning, through the dissolution of the assembly or a vote of no confidence against me," said Mohd Nizar, who is also the Pasir Panjang assemblyperson.

He said that speaker V Sivakumar has written to the Perak sultan to request for a special sitting of the state assembly.

"We are ready to table a motion of no-confidence and we shall see who has the majority," he said.

The ousted MB said that according to the schedule decided earlier, the state assembly was to resume meeting in April. 

Mohd Nizar also accused Umno of running scared and challenged the party to face the Perak people in a snap polls.

"Umno is afraid. They are afraid of losing as in Permatang Pauh and Kuala Terengganu. That is why they are seizing power.

"If they are truly gentleman, let’s have an election. We are gentlemen and are prepared to face them in any situation," he said.

Speaker has absolute immunity

Meanwhile, DAP leader Nga Kor Ming in a press statement said the speaker has “absolute and total immunity” from any civil or criminal action.

"The vicious attack on the legislature by the BN executive is totally unacceptable in a country with the principles of separation of powers of the executive, legislature and judiciary as enshrined in our federal constitiution," said Nga, a trained lawyer.

Nga said it was within speaker Sivakumar's powers to issue contempt proceedings against state assemblypersons who defy his order.

He said section 3 of the Perak Legislative Assembly (Privileges) Enactment 1959 states "no member shall be liable to any civil or criminal proceedings, arrest, imprisonment or damages by reason of any matter or thing brought by petition, bill, resolution, motion, or otherwise, or have said before the assembly or any committee”.

Furthermore, Nga said the action to suspend Zambry is protected by the federal constitution where Article 72(1) states the “validity of any proceedings in the legislative assembly of any state shall not be questioned by the court."

On Thursday, Sivakumar, through the assembly’s special privileges committee, suspended Zambry and all his six state excos

Zambry was slapped with an 18-month suspension while the excos have been suspended for 12 months.

The latest development plunges Perak into another crisis following BN's seizure of the state government early this month.

In a statement to the media, Sivakumar said the decision was reached because the seven BN representatives had failed to provide an explanation for their contempt of the state assembly by declaring themselves menteri besar and excos.

The inquiry was convened after Wong Kah Woh (DAP-Canning) had made an official complaint - Malaysiakini.