The day the Constitution died?

(The Malaysian Insider) KUALA LUMPUR, April 19 — They are putting up a brave front in Perak, but the chances of Pakatan Rakyat regaining control of the state legislature from Barisan Nasional is next to zero.

Without a level playing field, the DAP-PKR-PAS gang cannot hope to win this ongoing war of attrition that erupted after the power grab in February.

Speaker V. Sivakumar will do his best but on May 7 he will stripped off his position and powers by the BN team, aided and abetted by the three defectors. He may have the Federal Constitution on his side but nothing else.

Sadly, in Malaysia, the Constitution is not treated with the same reverence and deference as in the United States or India. So on May 7, the last stand by Datuk Seri Nizar Jamaluddin to reclaim what is rightfully his and Pakatan Rakyat’s will end badly.

But should Malaysians forget this black day? Should Malaysians go back to their everyday routine and forget the main actors in the Perak crisis?

Should Malaysians just shrug their shoulders and say that it is time to move on? Don’t think so. We should never forget:

Sultan Azlan Shah — His act of refusing to dissolve the state assembly and allow the people of Perak to elect its government put the state on this divisive path.

The former Lord President knows that justice must always be seen to be done and in this episode, the court of public opinion felt that the Sultan erred by installing Datuk Seri Zambry Kadir as the Mentri Besar.

A survey by Merdeka Centre showed that majority of Malaysians disagreed with his decision as did the voters in Bukit Gantang. Yet, the ruler is ensconced in his palace in Kuala Kangsar, pontificating about certain political groups in the country sowing the

seeds of hatred against rulers.

“These groups are allowing the ends to justify the means by condoning such acts. These groups and individuals feel that they are faultless and immune from any action to the extent of disregarding the law for attaining power, ‘’ he said at the loyalty pledge and Perak awards ceremony in conjunction with his 81st birthday at the Istana Iskandariah.

Is he referring to Pakatan Rakyat? If he is, he is giving them far too much credit. The only reason why the Opposition was able to stoke up strong feelings against the royalty was that the Sultan of Perak gave them ammunition. And that ammunition was the patently wrong decision in handing over power to BN and devaluing the power of the vote.

Hatred against any individual or group cannot be sowed in a vacuum. That individual or group must have done something to provoke such a reaction. We should expect the Sultan of Perak to fire away with more statements like he did today, to justify his actions, to vilify his critics and to play the role of the aggrieved party. That is his right.

Just as it is the right of Malaysians to rebuff self-serving pronouncements and attempts to sugar coat the power grab in Perak.

Raja Nazrin Shah — Institutions are only as good as the people who inhabit it. This is true of the police force, judiciary, the Election Commission and the constitutional monarchy.

The Regent of Perak cautioned on Saturday that insulting institutions, ridiculing institutions and fermenting hatred towards institutions are early steps towards abolishing the institutions. But surely there must be a caveat to what he said.

What good are institutions which ridicule the Federal Constitution, which insult the intelligence of a more educated population and which forget that they serve at the pleasure of the rakyat.

The Federal Court — On five occasions Malaysian courts have been asked to rule on actions inside legislative assemblies. All five times, the courts said they did not have the jurisdiction, pointing to Article 72 of the Federal Constitution which says that the validity of any proceedings in the state assembly of any state shall not be questioned in any court.

Yet, the Federal Court panel of Augustine Paul, Alauddin Mohd Sheriff, Arifin Zakaria, Nik Hashim Nik Ab. Rahman, and Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin was willing to depart from this precedent, which gives respect to the doctrine of separation of powers.

The Federal Court ruled that Sivakumar had erred in declaring the seats of the three defectors vacant and also said that acted illegally in suspending Zambry and several other lawmakers for showing contempt to the House.

Both these decisions give BN the numbers they need to remove Sivakumar when the assembly meets on May 7.

Aliran’s P Ramakrishnan was amazed that the five learned judges could have overlooked important provisions under Article 72.

“And we have to ask, ‘Why?’ If they are expected to dispense justice in a fair and impartial manner, shouldn’t they have paid attention to the supreme law of the country? “We have every right to expect them to be thorough before delivering their judgment.

These five judges are responsible if Malaysians continue to be cynical and sceptical about our judiciary.

“And we have to wonder how many brave and honest judges are left in the judiciary who will respect the Federal Constitution and remain true to their conscience in delivering justice,” he said.