Perak state assembly sitting called for May 7

By Lee Wei Lian, The Malaysian Insider

The Barisan Nasional today moved closer to consolidating its control over Perak when it called for a sitting of the state assembly on May 7, just six days before a six-month deadline to do so expires.

According to Perak DAP secretary Nga Kor Ming, the clerk of the House, Abdullah Antong Sabri, issued the notice of the sitting to the Perak DAP office today.

Nga said the notice was sent without the knowledge and consent of the speaker, V. Sivakumar.

If the sitting is held, BN can rectify the flaw in its plan to take over the state by calling for a vote of confidence in its administration and in Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Zambry Abdul Kadir.

Such a motion is almost certain to succeed as while BN and the Pakatan Rakyat have the same number of state legislators in the House, the former has the support of three independents who switched camps in February.

The Sultan of Perak had sworn in Zambry as the new mentri besar on Feb 6 but it was done without a confidence vote in the state assembly to show that he enjoys the confidence of the majority of Perak lawmakers.

The absence of a confidence vote in the House is a point used by critics of the power grab to say that the BN state government lacks legitimacy.

It also gave rise to the question of whether Zambry or Datuk Seri Nizar Jamaluddin is the rightful mentri besar, a matter that is still pending in the Kuala Lumpur High Court with a decision expected on May 5.

Nga has criticised the May 7 date, saying that by calling a sitting so close to the court decision, it arouses suspicion that the courts are under the influence of the BN.

"Is the BN so confident of winning the case that they are calling for a sitting right after the High Court's decision?" asked Nga, saying that he sees it as a sign of disrespect for the judiciary.

He also said that the BN was practising double standards as it had earlier accused the PR of subjudice when the speaker suspended Zambry and his six executive councillors from the House while the court case over the legality of their appointments was still pending.

"I call on the BN to be accountable and explain whether or not they are the unseen hand behind the judiciary. Otherwise, the independence of the judiciary is at stake."

When contacted, DAP strongman Lim Kit Siang raised concerns over yesterday's Federal Court decision to overturn the suspension of Zambry and his executive councillors from the House by the speaker.

"The decision undermined the doctrine of separation of powers between the judiciary and the legislature and brings the whole system of parliamentary democracy based on doctrine of separation of powers into disrepute," says Lim.

If the suspension was upheld, the BN would find itself at a numerically inferior position in the House even if the assembly was convened.

BN has no choice but to call for a sitting before May 13, which is when the six-month deadline to convene the assembly expires. Otherwise, the state assembly will be automatically dissolved and a state election will be held, something that it will want to avoid given the recent by-election loss it suffered in the Perak parliamentary constituency of Bukit Gantang.

It also has to notify state lawmakers at least two weeks in advance of any sitting.

Nga says that the PR will meet and discuss the next course of action.