Perak State Assembly Emergency Sitting Unconstitutional

KUALA LUMPUR, March 3 (Bernama) -- The emergency sitting of the Perak State Legislative Assembly on Tuesday was unconstitutional, according to constitutional law expert Prof Madya Dr Shamrahayu Abdul Aziz.

Dr Shamrahayu, from the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM), said the three motions approved were also unconstitutional.

This was because the "sitting" that took place about 100 metres from the State Legislative Assembly building, defied the Standing Order, which states that the time and place of the sitting must be that which are gazetted, she said.

She was referring to Standing Order 10(1) which says that "the State Assembly term is at a time and place as determined by the Sultan of Perak from time to time through gazetted proclamation." Political analyst Assoc Prof Dr Mohammad Agus Yusoff, however, offered a different opinion.

"Even if it is held on treetop, it is valid," he said when asked on the validity of the emergency session held under a tree outside the Perak Darul Ridzuan Building, which houses the State Legislative Assembly.

The 30-minute emergency session, which started at 10.20am, was called to order by Perak State Legislative Assembly Speaker V. Sivakumar, himself an assemblyman, and attended by all 27 PAS, DAP and Parti Keadilan Rakyat assembly members.

Dr Mohammad Agus, a lecturer at the University Kebangsaan Malaysia's History, Politics and Strategic Studies, told Bernama that the three motions passed during the session were also valid and cannot be challenged in court.

The motions are expressing support for Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin as the menteri besar, calling for the dissolution of the state assembly to enable fresh elections to be held, and affirming the Speaker's decision to suspend Menteri Besar Datuk Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir and his six state executive councillors from the state legislative assembly.

Dr Mohammad Agus said the Perak State Legislative Assembly's previous sitting was only adjourned and not terminated.

"If it is adjourned, then the Speaker has the power to call the emergency session even without the consent of the Sultan," he said.

Meanwhile, Bar Council President Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan said events unfolding in Perak were unprecedented and involved complex legal issues.

Although it was impossible to provide a conclusive opinion of them, some matters should be addressed as a matter of principle, she said in a statement.

She acknowledged that there were questions as to whether it was permissible to hold the state legislative assembly sitting outside the State Secretariat building.

"Of course, the State Secretariat building is where the legislative assembly sitting ought to have been held.

"However, the Speaker and assemblymen were prevented from holding it in the proper place by the police, and this raises serious issues as to the legality of the police action.

"Thus the Speaker had no choice but to act within what may be seen as wide powers to convene the meeting elsewhere," she said.

She acknowledged that there would be contrary views, but said that the situation was unprecedented and that the Standing Order might not adequately cover such eventualities, thus leaving the Speaker with the powers to act according to the circumstances.

Ambiga said that the situation was "untenable and cries out for the one thing that will resolve it conclusively -- a fresh election."

"There is now a window of opportunity for this to happen. Let the people decide."


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