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Monday, March 2, 2009

> Only the Speaker has final say - 1

Perak Speaker V. Sivakumar said this evening that a statement made by the state assembly secretary was made without his knowledge and permission and that the secretary has no powers to interpret Standing Orders.

He cited the legislature's Standing Orders 89 as giving him final say in any interpretation of the state assembly's Standing Orders. He also declared the emergency sitting on Tuesday as legal and will go on as scheduled.

The secretary of the state assembly, Abdullah Antong Sabri defied the speaker and issued a statement to the media this afternoon, where he declared the emergency sitting on Tuesday to be illegal as it has not received the consent of the Sultan of Perak, in accordance with the Standing Orders of the assembly and the state constitution.

"If the power to call a sitting can be taken from the speaker, what democratic values will future generations inherit?" said Sivakumar in his statement to the media. "We do not want our children to live in a half-baked democracy."

Observers have characterised the standoff between the house secretary and the speaker as a possible breakdown between the separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches of government.

"As far as rules are concerned, the secretary can only take orders from the speaker as head of the legislature and the sole authority to interpret standing orders," said Selangor State Assembly Speaker Teng Chang Kim.

"The only reason he would go against the speaker is if he is taking orders from the executive. This is a good case for instituting reforms to make the legislature truly independent of the executive."

DAP chairman Ngeh Koo Ham said that he has strong reasons to believe that the executive is forcing the secretary to defy the speaker.

"It is uncharacteristic of the clerk of the house to usurp the speaker and start interpreting the rules of assembly without knowledge or permission of the speaker," says Ngeh.

The Speaker's legal counsel team earlier today rebutted Perak Menteri Besar Datuk Zambry Abdul Kadir's comments made yesterday that the speaker is acting ultra vires the state constitution and circumventing the Sultan of Perak.

Sivakumar's legal counsel, Augustine Anthony, said that as an adjourned sitting, the session is not dissolved or prorogued and therefore does not require the consent of the Sultan.

“The emergency sitting is the fourth meeting of the first session of the 12th assembly so he (the Speaker) has the power to call the meeting,” he said - The Malaysian Insider.