May 20th, 2009 by Hafiz Noor Shams
Why election in Perak? Why do I support dissolving the state assembly in light that I see no wrong in a person exercising his or her freedom of association? Is it not political defection that caused the whole fiasco in Perak?
Am I being inconsistent?
No. I hold consistency as a personal value and therefore, I can say with certainty that I am being consistent. Allow me to explain my position and demonstrate my consistency.
From my perspective, the issue in Perak has long stopped being about freedom of association. It is not about political defection of the three state assemblypersons from DAP and PKR that brought down the Pakatan Rakyat government in Perak. Therefore, point raised by Barisan Nasional — and more so by UMNO members as BN component parties begin to break rank on the matter — about BN having the majority in the state assembly is moot.
It is clear to me that there is a serious deadlock in the state assembly even after accounting for the 3 defectors who are now supposedly to be independent assemblypersons friendly to BN. The deadlock comes not from the composition of the legislative hall which practically favors BN but is caused instead by the fact that the Speaker and the de facto government — BN, that is — are terribly hostile against each other. It is this deadlock, not the defection per se, that convinces me to support dissolution of the assembly and inevitably election.
Speakers in Malaysia, be it at the federal or state level, have extensive powers that he is the dictator of the house. With a culture of neutrality that should be held by Speaker absent, the Speaker is able to frustrate the government and bring any government’s business to a halt. However disagreeable a Speaker’s action is, the fact is in the imperfect system that Perak and Malaysia adopt considers Speaker’s extensive power as legal.
Not only that, the Speaker can suspend anybody seemingly indiscriminately.
BN tried to remove the Speaker but the truth is that BN cannot hope to succeed if they want to remove the Speaker legally without dissolving the state assembly. What happened on May 7 was a series of constitutional violations where BN eventually usurped the power the Speaker. It was wrong.
The power of the Speaker needs to be addressed but it has to be addressed through amendment of laws, not through the illegal use of brute force as was done on May 7 by BN. This means I consider Sivakumar as the only lawful Speaker.
While BN’s action on May 7 compounds the problem from imperfect system to dishonorable disrespect for the Constitution, it is really irrelevant to my support for dissolution and election. While it does have a great impact on political reality — I think it does make the emotional case for election stronger — the trigger point for my support of election is, as I mentioned, the conflict between the Speaker and the de facto government, the BN government in Perak.
Yes, the de jure government is the Pakatan Rakyat government as highlighted by the High Court in its May 11 ruling but the de facto government is the BN government.
Furthermore, if the apex Court reaffirmed the High Court’s decision, Pakatan Rakyat may become a minority government. Theoretically, if the laws are observed, Pakatan Rakyat can remain a minority government until 2013 because the Speaker can ensure any vote of confidence to bring down the minority government is thrown out. To me, a minority government is unacceptable if there is another group in the same House which is able to form a majority government. It is undemocratic.
To solve the issue, dissolution is necessary.
Notice, the two points do not at all affect freedom of association.