Tuesday, February 3, 2009

No by-elections - Malaysiakini

By Debra Chong

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 3 — The Election Commission declared today that there would be no by-elections for the Behrang and Changkat Jering state seats as the two assemblymen had written to them to declare their resignations were not valid.

The decision is not likely to end the political drama in Perak as the two renegade PKR legislators, Jamaluddin Mohd Radzi and Mohd Osman Mohd Jailu, are almost certain to defect, leaving the Pakatan Rakyat state government with just a one-seat majority in the state assembly.

EC chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Yusof told reporters in Putrajaya today no by-election could be called for now because there are doubts about the vacancy of the two seats.

He said both Jamaluddin and Mohd Osman had written a letter to Perak state assembly Speaker V. Sivakumar claiming their resignations were not valid.

Copies of the letters from Jamaluddin and Mohd Osman were given to the EC.

Sivakumar had on Sunday received two resignation letters, which were purportedly undated letters the two men had signed soon after PR parties formed the state government last year.

The speaker promptly declared the two seats vacant and wrote to inform the EC of the decision.

"Doubts have been created in the mind of the EC," said Abdul Aziz.

He added that it was not the speaker's role to declare any seat vacant. The speaker, he said, could only write to inform the EC.

"It is the EC's role to declare if a seat is vacant or not," he said.

With the EC's decision, the intrigue between PR and the opposition Barisan Nasional will continue, with both sides trying to lure each other's assemblymen to defect.

The two men at the centre of the controversy will now almost certainly leave PKR, leaving PR with just a one-seat majority in the state assembly.

With the PR state government tottering on the brink of collapse, BN leaders are likely to step up the pressure to entice more legislators to their side so that they can form the state government.

But speculation is also rife that a number of Umno legislators are also considering defecting to PKR. Earlier last week, Umno's assemblyman for Bota had already crossed over to PKR.

While Perak Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Nizar Hamaluddin has said his government has not considered dissolving the state assembly yet, that is now becoming a real possibility considering the instability which has been created.

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