Bar says today was a bleak day for democracy

(The Malaysian Insider) – The Bar Council condemned the police interference and what it says was “unwarranted action” in putting down protests and removing V. Sivakumar from the Speaker’s chair in the Perak state assembly today.

Ragunath Kesavan, the Bar Council president, said in a statement today that that the police acted in an unjustifiable and unacceptable manner when they physically removed Sivakumar from the assembly.

The Perak state assembly sitting was thrown into a state of chaos with shoving and shouting matches between Pakatan Rakyat (PR) and Barisan Nasional lawmakers.

In a controversial move, BN lawmakers attended a sitting in one corner of the assembly which was presided over by deputy speaker Hee Yit Foong, and voted to remove Sivakumar as Speaker of the assembly.

The move will most certainly be questioned as the sitting had at that point not been declared open yet by Raja Nazrin Shah.

BN assemblymen subsequently had R Ganesan declared the new speaker. Plainclothes policemen then came into the assembly and forcibly removed Sivakumar from the speaker’s chair.

Aside from what happened in the assembly, Ragunath was also scathing in his comments about the dozens of arrests made outside the assembly, and for blocking invited guests from entering the state secretariat building.

“It is obvious that the conflicts that are currently being played out arise from the lack of clarity and certainty about which political coalition commands the majority in the Dewan Undangan Negeri Perak.

“Issues as to whether certain assemblymen should be permitted to attend the sitting, who the Speaker should be, the seating arrangements within the Dewan itself, all these and more are mere side-issues.  Even when all is said and done, and the court decisions have been made, they may not reflect the will of the people.

“As such, the only solution must be to go back to the people.”