By Leslie Lau
IPOH, March 2 – Perak stands on the verge of an administrative breakdown tonight as the state’s executive and legislature appeared locked in battle for control of the state.
Datuk Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir, the mentri besar of the de facto Barisan Nasional (BN) government, has declared an attempt to hold an emergency sitting of the state assembly a “threat to national security.”
“If anyone is involved in tomorrow’s assembly, the government will not compromise with anyone who threatens national security,” he said.
Perak Speaker V Sivakumar has called for an emergency sitting of the state assembly tomorrow where a vote is likely to declare support for the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) government of Datuk Seri Nizar Jamaluddin and call for the state legislature to be dissolved.
Zambry claims that the emergency sitting is illegal without the consent of the Sultan. He cited Articles 8, 11 and 36 of the state constitution.
However, a check with the Perak constitution confirms that Articles 8 and 11 cited by Zambry were not related whatsoever with what he argued.
Articles 8 and 11 are in relation to the state seal, and the executive action of the authority being conducted in the Sultan’s name, respectively.
Article 36 says, among other things, that “His Royal Highness shall from time to time summon the legislative assembly and shall not allow six months to elapse between the last sitting in one session and the date appointed for its first sitting in the next session.”
However lawyers representing the Speaker are arguing that the last sitting of the assembly had only been adjourned sine die, or indefinitely. Therefore, the emergency sitting would only be a continuation of the last sitting.
Meanwhile, Speaker Sivakumar also said tonight that he will be suspending assembly secretary Abdullah Antong Sabri and has appointed Nizar’s political secretary, Misbahul Munir Masduki, as replacement.
The Speaker said Abdullah had failed to exercise his duties impartially when the latter claimed that the emergency sitting would be invalid without royal consent.
Sivakumar also called on the police to ensure that all state assemblymen would be allowed to attend tomorrow’s sitting without interference or obstruction.
He says he intends to invoke the powers of the assembly to commit those responsible for stopping the assembly to appropriate punishment.
Sivakumar cited Section 124 of the Penal Code, which is related to the crime of attempting to induce or compel or wrongfully restraint any member of the legislature.
The Perak state secretary’s office has issued a directive to lock the gates tomorrow to the building, where the state legislature is located, ahead of an emergency sitting of the state assembly called by Sivakumar.
The directive appears to suggest civil service and executive interference in the legislature in what some lawyers say is a clear violation of the constitution and the doctrine of separation of powers.
The Perak police chief also issued a statement this afternoon in which he said the emergency sitting is “invalid” and advised members of the public not to gather at the state assembly.
These various directives appear to suggest the state Barisan Nasional (BN) government is trying to stretch to the limits its advantage of incumbency to prevent a vote in the assembly tomorrow, which it may lose. MI