Friday, 16 April 2010

Forum on “Constitutional Crisis in Malaysia- Why 2 Menteri Besars in Perak?”

Forum on “Constitutional Crisis in Malaysia-
Why 2 Menteri Besars in Perak?”

Why do we hold the Forum?

In 2008. the March 8 General Election conveyed a clear message of the people of Malaysia for political reform. Five states, including Perak fell into the hands of the Pakatan Rakyat. In Perak , the Pakatan won with a three-seat majority and it gained control over the State government. Mohd. Nizar (from Pas) became the Menteri Besar of Perak.

However, after 11 months in power, three state assembly persons of the ruling Pakatan resigned from the party and proclaimed themselves as BN-friendly independent members. The Menteri Besar Nizar had an audience with Sultan Azlan Shah for the purpose of dissolving the state legislative assembly so that a fresh state election could be held.

But the Sultan did not accede to the request. Instead, the Sultan ordered immediate resignation of Menteri Besar and the Executive Council. Sultan Azlan Shah even suggested that the positions of Menteri Besar and the Executive Council be deemed vacant if they did not resign. The Sultan also declared that BN had achieved majority in the state assembly.

Such declaration was highly controversial. A popularly-elected government was deposed by a mere directive from the Palace. No vote of no confidence had been taken in the state assembly. This was inconsistent with the constitutional monarchy practised in Malaysia.

After a series of legal suits, a panel of 5 judges in the Federal Court unanimously handed down a decision that Zambry from the BN is the lawful Menteri Besar. In brief, the court ruled that:

1. There is no requirement in the State Constitution for a vote of no confidence to be taken in the State Assembly. There is no doubt that Zambry has the majority support of 31 out of 59 members of the state assembly.
2. If the Menteri Besar refuses to resign, the Sultan has the power to dismiss him.

Malaysia is a constitutional monarchy. The Yang diPertuan Agong and the rulers of the States are the symbolic heads of the country. The state power is being wielded by a government elected by the people. But the ruler of the State of Perak has exercised the power of the State, and dismissed a State government popularly elected through a democratic process. The Federal Court has legitimized the unprecedented act of the ruler.

Does all this mean that democracy in Malaysia is sliding down the slippery road of retrogression? As some social scientists and legal experts put it: our country is in the midst of constitutional crisis. The Federal Court decision would set the trend of moving our country from the present constitutional monarchy back towards the archaic absolute monarchy.

Friends of Suaram (FOS) will hold a forum on the constitutional crisis in Perak to explore the issue. Our panelists include an experienced legal practitioner, a social activist and a politician. They will share with us their respective views on the issue.

Details of the forum are as follows:

Date : 15 May 2010 (Saturday)
Time : 8.30pm
Venue : Tropical Inn, JB.

Admission is free. We welcome the attendance of the general public who are concerned in the future of Malaysia.

FOS (Friends of Suaram)

16 April 2010


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