It’s Battleground Ipoh today

(The Star) – The stage is set and the battle lines are drawn in Perak. Huge numbers of supporters from both Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat are expected to congregate at the state secretariat building today.

Pakatan is eager to defer any sitting to after May 13, which is the deadline for the assembly to be held. After that, the assembly will be automatically dissolved for fresh elections. Meanwhile, Barisan is hoping that the sitting will allow the coalition to hold on to power until the next general election.

Both sides have spent days, if not weeks, mulling over strategies and laying down plans for what promises to be a turbulent first-day sitting of the state assembly today.

For some time now, Barisan assemblymen have been holed up in one meeting after another. For Pakatan, their representatives gathered for one last briefing at Ipoh’s Grand View Hotel before taking a bus today to the state secretariat.

The police have warned stern action against those planning to gather outside the building. However, that is unlikely to deter the diehard supporters who had been receiving SMSes and told over the past weeks to show up there.

Among others, there were calls for Umno members to hold solat hajat prayers for a smooth assembly sitting while PAS supporters have been requested to conduct prayers at a few mosques in Ipoh to either stop the sitting or dissolve the assembly.

One SMS asked the people to wear black today as a sign of protest against the Barisan government.

All guns are expected to be blazing after the assembly is opened by Raja Muda of Perak Raja Dr Nazrin Shah, which is when Barisan will put in its motion to remove V. Sivakumar as Speaker and appoint a new one.

It is anyone’s guess what will happen next – whether Sivakumar will reject the motion or if Barisan will insist for it be put to the vote since the coalition holds the majority.

One senior Barisan assemblyman believes that the Speaker cannot exercise the right to reject the motion to sack him as he is only given authority by the assembly, and that appointments are decided by the side who holds the majority.

Perak DAP secretary Nga Kor Ming countered that the Speaker had absolute prerogative under Order 2 and 89 of the Standing Orders.

“There are many precedents in Parliament and other state assemblies where the Speaker rejected or summarily disposed of a motion without putting it to a vote in the assembly,” he said.

Although Sivakumar has pledged to be fair, Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry hinted that Barisan had its own contingency plan if the Speaker rejected the motion. But like the Speaker, he is keeping mum for now.

However, the suspense will be only be over after the two sides face off today.