Dissolve Perak State Assembly (Part 1)

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We reproduce a series of public statements from prominent personalities, mostly urging the BN team to go back to the Perak people and let them resolve the constitutional crisis at the ballot box once and for all.  

What is at stake in the Perak crisis

by Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah

The Perak crisis is a tragic comedy of errors and bad political judgment that reflects a failure of political leadership. As it continues to spin out of control, it damages our democratic system of governance. To all intents and purposes, one of our most prosperous and developed states has been reduced to a failed state, with a possibly illegal state government in place. This is a condition that can propagate outwards to the rest of the country.

I stated at the beginning of this crisis that by our Constitution, a change of government can only be brought about by democratic means, which is to say, through the ballot box or through a formal vote of confidence in the elected Legislative Assembly. These are the constitutionally mandated means by which the people decide on their government. Any other means of changing the government is unconstitutional and undemocratic, and subverts the basis upon which we are a civilised society.

We now have reason to fear the loss of the people’s confidence in the Constitution, in democracy  and in our constitutional monarchy. Responsible political leadership must support rather than destroy the confidence of the people in these practices and institutions. In particular,  powers reserved for the Legislative Assembly, which represents the sovereign will of the people, cannot be taken away under any circumstances by anyone. This foundational constitutional principle has been affirmed by the Court. We are all sworn to uphold it. Those who do not understand or accept this principle have no place in government.

Some issues can be solved by a court of law, but the Perak crisis is not one of them. The back and forth events recently demonstrate this fact abundantly. The Perak crisis cannot be solved by a decision of the Court because it is at heart a political rather than a constitutional problem. There is really no doubt about what the Constitution says. What is now unclear as a result of an ugly series of manoeuvres is whether Perak has a legitimate government, and there is only one way to resolve that issue. Perhaps our political leadership has not understood how important it is that the people’s voice must prevail, and be seen to prevail, in the choice of their government.

The only solution to the Perak crisis now is for the State Legislative Assembly to be dissolved and free and fair elections held. At this stage there is no other way to restore both public confidence and constitutional legality to the Perak state government, and by extension to our entire system of government. Our survival as a democratic and constitutional monarchy depends on our acceptance of the judgment of the people as expressed in free and fair elections. Any attempt to circumvent that  judgment betrays the basic principles and values upon which our nation and incidentally, Umno itself, stand. I appeal for wisdom and a broader concern for the wellbeing of our country.

Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah is the Member of Parliament for Gua Musang

Go back to the people, says Senate head

PETALING JAYA: The political situation in Perak has reached a stage where it may be time to go back to the people, said Dewan Negara president Tan Sri Dr Abdul Hamid Pawanteh.

Dr Abdul Hamid, who has been observing the development in Perak with concern, said ad hoc actions on the part of individuals and political parties in Perak had not solved the impasse.

“Rightly or wrongly, the series of ad hoc actions have only made things more complex and convoluted. The best thing is for the powers-that-be to decide on the best course of action under the circumstances,” he said.

He said that in a democracy, when the arithmetic shows that one has the majority, then the problem is solved.

“In this case, the arithmetic is right but the problem is still there. Either you go on like this till the next general election or you go back to the people,” he added.

“The application of individual and specific provisions, be it under the Perak Constitution, the Standing Orders or the Federal laws, have not brought about a solution.

“That is why I think it is time to address the fundamental issue. Maybe it is time to go back to the people.”

The Senate president pointed out that all kinds of options had been exercised but had not worked. He said these included Legislative Assembly Speaker V. Sivakumar applying his powers, the Sultan exercising his prerogative and the three independent assemblymen aligning themselves to the Barisan.

He said the Senate would swear in six new Senators today but Perak to date had not been able to nominate anyone for the Senate because of the political impasse.

Source: thestar.com.my (6 May 2009)

The Perak incident

by Abdul Talib Othman

The Perak incident was raised and discussed at Suhakam’s monthly meeting on 11 May 2009.

It appears to us that during the incident that occurred in the Perak State Legislative Assembly on 7 May 2009, the police and the civil service acted in concert with the government that has assumed power in controversial circumstances, showing complete disregard for human rights. Governments may change but those who serve in the police and administration must remain loyal to the wider interest and respect human rights rather than the narrow interest of individuals who form the government of the day.

When the elected members of the Assembly met and challenged each other in the august House, the police were busily engaged in “maintaining public order”. Outside, passive demonstrators dressed in black to mourn the violation of their rights to assemble peacefully, were particularly provoked and manhandled. The Dewan proceeded even while the court was still to decide on the following Monday, four days later, who was the legitimate Menteri Besar.

The pre-emptive proceedings, the motion to sack the legitimate Speaker and his removal from the House and the action of the police force have caused much concern to the people at large. It somewhat makes us wonder whether service to the people is subordinate to service to political interests. The decision of the Court declaring Dato’ Seri Mohammed Nizar Jamaluddin as the rightful Menteri Besar of Perak has further complicated matters.

Malaysia is a democratic country based on human rights and the rule of law. The political disturbances in Perak and what transpired in the Dewan on 7 May would no doubt pose a dark shadow over our efforts to promote democracy and human rights in Malaysia.

Article 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 provides that the will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of the government.

Judging from the events following the appointment of Datuk Seri Zambry Abdul Kadir as Menteri Besar, the incident in the Perak Assembly sitting on 7 May and the decision of the Court declaring Dato’ Seri Mohammed Nizar as the rightful Menteri Besar, it is very unlikely that the Perak issue will be resolved unless power is given back to the people. Courts action will not necessarily resolve the political situation in Perak. As Dewan Negara President Tan Sri Dr. Abdul Hamid Pawanchik said, “the political situation in Perak has reached a stage that required the people to choose again.”

Perhaps the time has come for the people of Perak to be given the opportunity to exercise their right to choose again the Government of their choice, which is a basic human right. Only a stable government will be able to ensure the right to peace and development.

Two of the greatest gifts endowed by God to His creatures are the sense of sight and hearing. Without these there is no learning and progress. It is very encouraging that the Government under the leadership of YAB Dato’ Sri Mohd. Najib Tun Razak is prepared to listen to dissenting views.

Hopefully the Government will also tolerate and appreciate peaceful public demonstration against unpopular policies and actions.

Human rights transcend race, status and political ranks. No person has more rights than the next one. Muslims are aware of this fundamental rights as espoused by Prophet Muhammad in his last sermon –
…All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action……
This, perhaps, will be a good basis for “1 Malaysia”.

“Human rights for all”

Tan Sri Abdul Talib Othman is chairman of the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam)

Go back to the people

Penang Gerakan Chairman Dato’ Dr Teng Hock Nan in a statement on 13 May urged Perak BN Chairman and Menteri Besar, Datuk Seri Zambry Abdul Kadir, to immediately request for dissolution of the Perak State Assembly and pave the way for fresh state elections. This will allow the people of Perak to decide on who ought to lead them.

“Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said yesterday that it was up to Zambry to decide the next course of action. I strongly feel that Perakians must have the final say in this matter because every Government needs legitimacy, and the doubts can only be cleared via a re-election,” said Dr. Teng, adding that Zambry should stop pursuing courts proceedings on the legitimacy of the Perak Menteri Besar.

Dr Teng also stressed that by giving back the power of choosing the next Government to the people who obviously want a say in the matter, the BN can once again show that it upholds the principle of democracy and that it has the best interest of the people at heart.

“Democracy is about elections and choice. This has been the way since Greek times and I don’t think it has changed. There are no exceptions to this, so we too must uphold these values to reinforce our commitments to the principles of democracy,” Dr Teng said.

“The political situation in Perak has come to a point – milky and uncertain – that it is only right to let the people choose the government they want,” Dr Teng added.

Source: gerakan.org.my (13 May 2009)

Legal recourse not the answer to Perak situation

Gerakan secretary-general Teng Chang Yeow urged the Barisan Nasional leadership to explore and seek political solutions to the Perak situation, rather than persuing only legal recourse.

Political options to be considered may include allowing the minority (28-seats) Pakatan Rakyat government to continue functioning and going for the next legislative assembly seating, or even concurring with the proposal to dissolve the Perak Assembly and let the electorate decide on the government of their choice.

Under the legal process, BN no doubt has the right to appeal to another higher court for a review of the decision of the Kuala Lumpur High Court on the legitimacy of the Menteri Besar of Perak. However, Barisan Nasional leadership should consider the possible subsequent impasse and political impact on the entire nation, he said.

“While the Barisan Nasional leadership maintains that our focus now is on the economy, how can we do so effectively if the Perak situation keeps on worsening and generating negative perception and reaction from the people?” Teng asked.

He drew attention to what the Prime Minister recently wrote in his blog about the values of acceptance and integrity in his eight values toward achieving 1Malaysia. “Therefore, for1Malaysia to be achieved, the values of acceptance and integrity must be found in the State Government of Perak, whether it is governed by Barisan Nasional or otherwise.”

Source: gerakan.org.my (12 May 2009)

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