Ruling gives Nizar legitimacy to seek dissolution

By Baradan Kuppusamy (The Malaysian Insider)

KUALA LUMPUR, May 11: The court victory today finally gives Datuk Seri Nizar Jamaluddin the right and legitimacy to seek an audience with the Perak palace for dissolution of the State legislative assembly and pave the way to for a fresh election to settle the three month old political impasse.

Nizar will now try to seek an audience either with Perak regent Raja Nazrin Shah or with Sultan Azlan Shah to dissolve the state assembly.

He will also trying to get an audience at a state function at the Istana Kuala Kangsar on Tuesday morning, a Pakatan Rakyat leader said.

Ousted Menteri Besar Dr Zambry Khalid said Barisan Nasional (BN) will vacate the MB’s office at the State secretariat building immediately leaving it a open question whether the other exco-members are also to vacate the their offices.

Does the judgment means the government is replaced or only the Menteri Besar, a lawyer asked.

It could be another long and uncertain battle.

Justice Abdul Aziz Rahim stuck with the 1966 federal court decision in the case of the late Sarawak chief minister Datuk Stephen Ningkan that a chief minister can only be removed by a vote of confidence on the floor of the state assembly.

In the Ningkan case, he was removed and Penghulu Tawi Sli appointed as Chief Minister but after the court decision Ningkan was reinstated as chief minister.

But weeks later, emergency was declared in Sarawak and Ningkan was overthrown while Tawi Sli was reinstated,

Justice Abdul Rahim said that a new mentri besar could not be appointed as the office had not been legally vacated without a confidence vote.

He also rejected Zambry’s application to stay today's decision.

Lawyer and Sungkai assemblyman S. Sivanesan however said the judgment becomes effective after a “sealed” copy of the judgment is extracted and served on Zambry or the state legal adviser.

“It normally takes a few days unless there is an inordinate and unexplained delay,” he said adding however based on media reports Nizar can ask the palace for an immediate dissolution of the assembly.

He said the government has been replaced not just the mentri besar.

“We are back as the legitimate government by order of the court,” he said adding BN has 40 days to file an appeal to the Court of Appeal but until that outcome, “we are the government.”

“We can be styled a caretaker government until the appeal is disposed-off,” he said.

Other lawyers said BN can call an immediate emergency session of the assembly and table a vote of no-confidence against Nizar using the three-seat majority in the assembly.

Whatever the case the crisis in Perak has worsened and much now depends on how the palace reacts to the developments.

Independent lawyers said the palace can either dissolve the legislature for fresh elections or order an emergency session in which case a vote of no-confidence on Nizar or alternatively a vote of confidence on Dr Zambry can be tabled and carried, if BN’s three seat majority holds.