Might is not always right

By Deborah Loh, The Nut Graph

THE Perak legislative assembly sitting on 7 May was the final act in the power grab by Barisan Nasional (BN). Three months after wresting the Perak government from the Pakatan Rakyat (PR), the BN yesterday finally grabbed the all-important speaker's chair as the sitting descended into chaos.

Now, instead of having two contentious state governments led by two menteris besar, Perak now has the dubious honour of having two speakers as well. And the crisis shows no signs of abating.

To get to this point, two myths have been perpetuated about the state's political and constitutional crisis

The first is that failure to hold an assembly by 13 May or six months from the last sitting will result in the automatic dissolution of the state government. The second is that "what matters most in a democracy is the numbers. The majority rules", which BN-appointed Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir is fond of saying.

These myths have been used to support the BN's naked agenda to replace the legislative assembly speaker V Sivakumar from DAP with someone supportive as the new chair of the House. This the BN achieved yesterday with the use of police force.

No automatic dissolution

The BN was never expected to return to Perak voters for a fresh mandate. Thus came about the spin that the House had to meet by 13 May or be automatically dissolved. Yet, Article 36 of the Perak constitution only states that the ruler must summon the assembly to sit every six months.

Unfortunately, the "great myth" about automatic dissolution, as lawyer Tommy Thomas has called it, has been reported in the media often enough that it now appears as fact.