Lawyers give different views on High Court’s decision

(The Star) PETALING JAYA: Lawyers have given differing views on the outcome of the court case which ruled that Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin is the legitimate Perak Mentri Besar.

Senior lawyer Datuk Muhammad Shafee Abdullah said the decision by High Court judge Justice Abdul Aziz Abdul Rahim, was “quite unexpected” as there was a precedent case in Sabah which ruled differently.

He said the case, which adopted a decision handed down by the Privy Council in Africa, suggested that whether there was a lack of confidence against a Mentri Besar (or Chief Minister) need not have to be found on the floor of the assembly.

Yesterday, Justice Abdul Aziz said that Nizar, once appointed Mentri Besar, was only answerable to the State Legislative Assembly and that based on democratic practice, the vote of no-confidence should be taken on the floor of the assembly and only that way, Nizar could be forced to resign.

“So, it was quite strange that the court said this had to be found only on the floor of the assembly,” the lawyer said when contacted yesterday.

He also said the bottom line now is that Nizar did not enjoy the majority of the assembly, as “It’s still 28/31 (Pakatan Rakyat/ Barisan Nasional).”

Muhammad Shafee said he expected a two-prong attack from Barisan – file an appeal and go for the stay application, and then move for the assembly to sit. “Then, they can outvote the MB,” he said.

Another lawyer Malik Imtiaz Sarwar said all decisions or actions made by Datuk Seri Dr Zam­bry Abd Kadir as a mentri besar had no legal effect now after the ruling.

This, he said, was based on the court decision that Perak had only one MB in Nizar, said Malik.

“In my view, Zambry was never MB. He had no power to act as MB because Nizar had always been the rightful one,” said Malik, who is also the National Human Rights Society president.

Thus, last week’s state assembly sitting had no legal provision at all since it was not called by the legitimate MB, he said.

Malik, however, pointed out that the situation remained messy.