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Monday, March 2, 2009

> Only the Speaker has final say - 3

Perak is heading for another major political "collision" -- this time between State Assembly Speaker V. Sivakumar and the pro-Barisan Nasional assembly secretary Abdullah Antong Sabri.

Sivakumar's lawyers said today an emergency sitting of the assembly will proceed as scheduled on Tuesday as it "is perfectly legal as stated under the Perak Constitution and in accordance with established parliamentary practice in Commonwealth countries".

However, Antong said Sivakumar's call for an emergency sitting is not legal and cannot be held because it has not received the royal consent in accordance with the Standing Orders of the assembly and the state constitution.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak said yesterday that Sivakumar cannot call for an emergency sitting as the court had yet to decide on the status of the (state) government.

Both Sivakumar's lawyers Chan Kok Keong and Augustine Anthony told a press conference in the latter's office that the assembly was adjourned sine die last November and as such the Speaker has the power to convene a new sitting.

"However, if his Royal Highness the Sultan of Perak had prorogued (suspended) or dissolved the 12th State Assembly, then the Speaker has to get the consent of His Royal Highness to convene the 13th State Assembly sitting."

Chan said as such, Sivakumar has the authority as Speaker of the House under Section 90 of the Standing Orders of the State Legislative Assembly of Perak Darul Ridzuan to call for the emergency sitting without referring to the Sultan of Perak.

Chan's statement was strengthened by constitutional lawyer Tommy Thomas who today in a faxed seven-page letter made available to the media, said: "It is thus plain and obvious that the Speaker in the elected House of the British Parliament, the House of Commons, has the discretion to recall the House during an adjournment, which is factually a different category from prorogation.

"Thus the Speaker of the Perak Legislative Assembly is entitled under Standing Order 90 to 'have regard to the usages of Commonwealth Parliamentary practice', in this case, the settled practice in the House of Commons, as to his own power to convene a sitting of the Assembly during adjournment."

Standing Order 90 states: All matters not specifically provided in these Standing Orders and all questions relating to the detailed working of these Standing Orders, as Mr Speaker may from time to time direct; and in giving any such direction Mr Speaker shall have regard to the usages of Commonwealth Parliamentary practice so far as such usages can be applied to the proceeding of the Assembly.

On Friday, Sivakumar called for the emergency sitting, invoking Standing Orders 8 and 11, so that the assembly can vote on two motions, for which he had received two notices on Tuesday.

The motions were by Titi Serong assemblyman Dr Khalid Idham Lim Abdullah and Tej assemblyman Chang Lih Kang regarding the consititutional crisis in Perak.

Perak DAP chief Datuk Ngeh Koo Ham said the two motions sought the dissolution of the State Assembly and reaffirming support for Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin as Mentri Besar, who it is learnt will have a panel of constitutional lawyers to advise him during the assembly sitting.

Sivakumar has also barred BN's Mentri Besar Datuk Zambry Abdul Kadir and his six executive councillors from attending the sitting.

Also barred from the sitting are the three former Pakatan Rakyat assemblymen of Behrang (Jamaluddin Mohd Radzi), Changat Jering (Mohd Osman Mohd Jailu) and Jelapang (Hee Yit Foong), who have since declared themselves as independents but friendly to the BN state government - theSun