Thursday, February 19, 2009

Perak Speaker has suspension powers

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 18 — The Perak Speaker acted within his powers when he barred Menteri Besar Datuk Zambry Abdul Kadir and six executive councillors from the next sitting of the state legislature, in the latest move arising from the constitutional crisis in Perak, said a law expert today.

Abdul Aziz Bari, a law professor at the International Islamic University here, told The Malaysian Insider that the Speaker’s authority covers a very wide area in matters involving the assembly’s regulations.

“That includes the finality on the interpretation of provisions in the Standing Orders, the rules which govern the House,” he said.

Veteran lawyer, Karpal Singh, concurred.

Karpal, who is also the DAP chairman, said that while V Sivakumar is a first-term Speaker, he is absolutely within his rights to act as he did today.

Earlier today, Sivakumar announced that Zambry would not be allowed to take part in the state assembly’s proceedings for the next 18 months, following a probe by the state assembly’s Special Privileges Committee.

Sivakumar added that six other BN state lawmakers would also not be allowed in for the next 12 months.

The committee had acted following complaints that the seven state assemblymen were appointed unconstitutionally.

Abdul Aziz observed that at the federal level, the Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat has previously made some “absurd and illogical decisions — rejecting motions and suspending members, among others”.

“Now it is the turn of the BN to taste that,” he noted.

Pakatan Rakyat’s (PR) Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin maintains he is still the lawful menteri besar of Perak as he has neither resigned from his post nor has he been voted out by the majority of assemblymen in the state legislative assembly.

His civil suit against Zambry, filed last Friday challenging the Pangkor assemblyman for usurping his authority, was heard this morning at the High Court here.

Abdul Aziz said that Nizar has a right to stake his claim in court as it is based on the “dubious position of Zambry’s government”.

He added that the state government “owes its position” to the majority in the legislative assembly.

“This is the problem as we are not sure whether Zambry’s got that,” the professor said.

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