By Leslie Lau
IPOH, Feb 18 — Perak state assembly speaker V Sivakumar has suspended Menteri Besar Datuk Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir and his six state executive councillors from the state assembly for 18 and 12 months respectively for contempt of the assembly.
The move appears designed to force either the downfall of the Barisan Nasional (BN) state government, or a dissolution of the state assembly to pave the way for fresh elections.
Sivakumar is a member of DAP, which is part of the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) state government that was dismissed by Sultan Azlan Shah following a number of defections.
The suspensions throwns up a number of constitutional conundrums, not the least of which will be who is in charge of Perak now.
Since Zambry and his executive councillors cannot attend the state legislature, there is a question mark over whether their government can function.
There are also questions as to whether PR assemblymen will try to table a vote of no-confidence against Zambry.
However Datuk Seri Nizar Jamaluddin still maintains he is the legitimate menteri besar because he has not resigned. This morning, a court in Kuala Lumpur began hearing his suit against Zambry to have himself declared the MB.
The state assembly must be convened by April, as the state constitution stipulates that the period between sittings cannot extend beyond six months.
In a printed statement released to the press this evening, Sivakumar, as chairman of the committee, said that this was because the seven BN lawmakers failed to give any explanation during the inquiry convened after Wong Kah Woh (DAP-Canning) had last Thursday made an official complaint.
“I have decided to bar Datuk Zambry with immediate effect from attending any assembly session for the next 18 months and the six exco members have also been barred for 12 months,” stated Sivakumar.
Earlier, Wong told reporters that he had “presented my complaint against the appointments of Zambry and the six excos which were unconstitutional before the committee,” before leaving the inquiry held at the state secretariat.
Arriving at 3pm, Zambry and his six state executive councillors spent just half an hour before the state assembly’s privileges committee before leaving without speaking to reporters today.
The committee remained holed out in a meeting room at the state secretariat after Zambry and his exco left and exited at 6.30pm.
Sivakumar was quizzed as to whether he or the committee had the power to suspend the assemblymen without first bringing it before the assembly as he left the state secretariat building.
“I will notify the assembly,” he told reporters before leaving in his car.
When Sivakumar had told the press last Saturday that the committee was summoning Zambry and his exco, he had said that the committee can only carry out an investigation and table a report and proposal at the next assembly sitting for the assembly to decide on.
Referring the BN government to the committee is one of Pakatan Rakyat’s (PR) last-gasp strategies to reverse the Feb 5 power grab masterminded by BN chairman-elect Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
The ousted mentri besar, Datuk Seri Nizar Jamaluddin has also filed a legal suit in the Kuala Kumpur High Court to declare Zambry’s administration illegal.
The privileges committee is made up of PR assemblymen with only one representative from BN, Temenggor’s Datuk Hasbullah Osman who was absent from today’s hearing.
The six exco members are Perak MCA Youth chief Dr Mah Hang Soon (Chenderiang), Perak Umno Youth chief Zainol Fadzi Paharudin (Sungai Manik), Hamidah Osman (Sungai Rapat), Mohammad Zahir Abdul Khalid (Kamunting), Datuk Ramly Zahari (Manong) and Datuk Saarani Mohamad (Kota Tampan).