Perak Speaker guilty of contempt

(The Star) – The Pakatan Rakyat-endorsed Rights and Privileges Committee has found Perak Speaker Datuk R. Ganesan guilty of contempt of the House and will recommend a six-month jail term for him in the next sitting.

The committee will also serve a notice to Ganesan soon, directing the former Sungkai assemblyman to vacate the Speaker’s office and stop “impersonating” the Speaker.

Ousted Speaker V. Sivakumar said that the committee had made the decision after concluding its investigation Thursday into a complaint by Pokok Assam assemblyman Yee Seu Kai.

The complaint was against Ganesan’s appointment as the Speaker, his act of bringing the police into the State Assembly and the events surrounding the notorious May 7 sitting.

“The committee has heard testimonials from three witnesses and has concluded that Ganesan has committed contempt of the Assembly.

“We will report to the Assembly that the defendant (Ganesan) should immediately desist from holding himself out as Speaker.

“He should not be allowed to enter the Assembly building whether or not the Assembly is sitting,” Sivakumar said at a press conference at the Syuen Hotel here.

He said that the committee would propose to the Assembly that Ganesan be jailed for six-months or until the Assembly is dissolved, whichever is the sooner, and fined RM500,000 in default of six months’ jail or until the Assembly is dissolved, whichever is the sooner.

The Tronoh assemblyman, who is also chairman of the committee, said the decision was arrived at after it was established that the events in the May 7 sitting were invalid.

“We have accepted and adopted the expert opinion of Tommy Thomas after he was interviewed by the committee,” he said.

Thomas, he said, had explained that the committee, although considered defunct by the Barisan Nasional, was still the State Assembly’s valid select committee since the entire proceedings of the May 7 sitting was illegal.

“This is because the sitting was not declared open by the Raja Muda and as such, no resolution can be passed.

“This means that Ganesan’s appointment and my removal was not lawful,” he said.

Earlier, Sivakumar and the other Pakatan committee members were engaged in yet another face-off with the police and State Secretariat officials when they tried to hold their committee hearing inside the building.

The committee was turned away on Monday when it first tried to hold its hearing.

This time however, the argument turned ugly when Simpang Pulai assemblyman Chan Ming Kai of PKR attempted to push his way through the gates, resulting in a minor scuffle.

The group, which had arrived at the building gates at about 10am, only dispersed at 11.30am with a threat to State Secretary Datuk Dr Abdul Rahman Hashim — “tell us to our face during our next committee hearing that you are prohibiting us from entering the building or we will force our way in.”

The group had also attempted to enter the building by claiming that they only wanted to have a cup of coffee in the cafeteria.

“We only want to enter the building in our capacity as elected representatives. Why are we being stopped?” said Sivakumar.

The committee will attempt to hold its second investigation at the State Secretariat on Friday and has summoned Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abd Kadir and Deputy Speaker Hee Yit Foong.

'Committee dissolved’

In an immediate response, State assembly secretary Abdullah Antong Sabri said that the Rights and Privileges committee could no longer hold meetings as it is deemed to have been dissolved after the May 7 sitting.

He said the committee was valid for only one term and ceased to function after the State Assembly entered a new term, Bernama reported.

“New committee members were appointed during the meeting of the second term on May 7. As such the previous committee chaired by Sivakumar is no longer valid,” Abdullah said.

He said Ganesan was appointed the new State Assembly Speaker and chairman of the Rights and Privileges committee during the sitting.