Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Six months after tree assembly, Pakatan assembles in hotel

IPOH, Sept 2 — Pakatan Rakyat (PR) Speaker V Sivakumar convened a Perak state assembly “sitting” today at the Heritage Hotel here with 23 other state lawmakers after they were forcibly stopped from entering the state secretariat building this morning.

The sitting, while slammed by Barisan Nasional (BN) as a political ploy, is a move by PR to maintain the stand that it still legitimately controls the legislature nearly nine months after a controversial power grab that is still being disputed.

Sivakumar, who also maintains that he is the legitimate Speaker, presided over the assembly with no BN assemblymen present, even though sitting was arranged for them.

Earlier, police arrested three Perak lawmakers this morning, including state DAP chief Ngeh Koo Ham, as they forcibly blocked a group of PR representatives from entering the state secretariat building here to convene a state assembly sitting.

The PR lawmakers, including former mentri besar Datuk Seri Nizar Jamaluddin, who was ousted by BN in the power grab, were engaged in a scuffle with riot police before eventually dispersing.

Besides Ngeh, others arrested included Simpang Pulai assemblyman Chan Ming Kai; Malim Nawar representative Keshvinder Singh, who was kicked by policemen; and a Nanyang Siangpau photographer.

Three other members of the public, believed to be PR supporters, were also detained.

Keshvinder, who sustained injuries during the scuffle, has been taken to hospital.

Police had rolled out barbed wire and placed riot police with water cannons around the Perak state assembly, brandishing a court order barring assemblies within 30 metres of the area.

PR lawyers had tried in vain this morning to set aside the court order, but could not obtain an appointment with any magistrate.

Sivakumar had called for the sitting six months — as required by law — after the last sitting that was forced to be held under a rain tree.

The Pakatan Rakyat government fell last February when three lawmakers quit to turn independent in the 59-seat assembly, locking both Pakatan and Barisan Nasional with 28 lawmakers each.

The Perak ruler asked Pakatan mentri besar Nizar to quit the post but he refused, saying only the state assembly could force his resignation.

The Sultan also rejected Nizar’s advice to dissolve the assembly and call for fresh elections, and instead named BN’s Pangkor assemblyman Datuk Zambry Abdul Kadir as the new mentri besar.

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