Not treasonous to question Sultan

By Shanon Shah
[email protected]

PETALING JAYA, 6 Feb 2009: People have the right to question a Ruler's decision which impacts the public, legal experts said.

Asked to comment on the opposition towards Sultan Azlan Shah's decision not to dissolve the Perak legislative assembly yesterday, Datuk Param Cumaraswamy said: "The public has the right to discuss the implications of the Sultan's decision, which affects the electorate."

Param, who is the former UN special rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, said citizens have the right to disagree with the palace's decision and express desire for snap elections.

Malaysian Bar Council president Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan agreed, saying: "As long as public dissent is expressed peacefully, respectfully and reasonably, it should be permitted."

Last night, the embattled Perak Pakatan Rakyat called for a 100,000-strong public demonstration in Ipoh to support the coalition government which the Sultan has asked to step down to make way for the Barisan Nasional (BN).

Accusations are rife from the BN camp that the Pakatan Rakyat is treasonous for demanding snap elections and supporting besieged Perak Menteri Besar (MB) Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin.

"These accusations of treason are unfounded," Ambiga told The Nut Graph in a phone interview. "Police blockades of the demonstrators (last night) [were] unnecessary."

Additionally, Nizar's refusal to relinquish his post as the MB also cannot be considered treasonous or seditious, the legal experts said.

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