Can Sivakumar foil the BN’s plan?

(Bernama) – It is difficult to predict what will happen when the Perak State Legislative Assembly sits beginning Thursday (7 May) until May 13.

The focus will certainly be on the issue over the post of Menteri Besar which is still being challenged in court and the position of Assembly Speaker V.Sivakumar, from the DAP, who is still holding the post although the state government is now in the hands of the Barisan Nasional (BN).

Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir had already submitted a motion to choose a new Speaker by naming former Sungkai Assemblyman Datuk R.Ganesan from the MIC as the candidate.

For the BN, the Speaker's post is important to enable it to plan a smoother administrative agenda after taking over the state government in February.

Does Sivakumar have the ability to foil the BN's plan?

When State Assembly Secretary Abdullah Antong Sabri circulated the notice on the sitting beginning April 17, the opposition coalition comprising the DAP, Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) and PAS put up various reasons against it, including a boycott, to stop the sitting which had received the consent of the Sultan of Perak.

The latest is the claim by Perak DAP chairman Datuk Ngeh Koo Ham that the 18-month suspension imposed by Sivakumar earlier on Zambry and six of his Executive Council members was still valid although the Federal Court had decided that the suspension was null and void.

Yesterday, Sivakumar wrote a letter to the Sultan of Perak, Sultan Azlan Shah, requesting the Ruler to postpone the sitting of the State Assembly on the ground that the court had still not decided on the position of the Menteri Besar.

The State Assembly sitting this time, which will be opened by the Regent, Raja Dr Nazrin Shah, is crucial because if it does not sit within six months of its last sitting on Nov 28, 2008, the Perak State Assembly will automatically be dissolved and a fresh state election will have to be called.

Thus, the State Legislative Assembly will have to sit by May 13 at the latest.

Meanwhile, constitutional law lecturer Associate Prof Dr Shamrahayu Abdul Aziz said if the motion to remove Sivakumar were tabled on Thursday, Sivakumar would have to excuse himself as he cannot be presiding over a motion on his own removal.

She said Sivakumar also could not bar the Menteri Besar and six other executive councillors from attending the assembly sitting because if he wished to do so, a motion would have to be tabled with the majority of the Dewan backing it.

However, she said, such a motion would have to be made at least 14 days before the sitting and no such motion had been made.

"I don't think he has any valid reasons to bar them from attending," she told Bernama.

Article 36A (2) (d) of the Perak state constitution stipulates that "The Speaker may at any time resign his office and shall vacate his office, if the Assembly at any time so resolves".

Meanwhile, the police pointed out they would ensure that the State Assembly sitting would proceed smoothly although there was speculation that the sitting this time would create a 'heated' environment.

Perak Police chief Datuk Zulkefli Abdullah said police would not compromise with anyone who attempted to disturb public order.

The BN and the opposition coalition each have 28 out of the total of 59 seats in the Perak State Assembly while three others are independent assemblymen.