PETALING JAYA, 8 May 2009: Civil society groups have have cried foul over the legality of the Perak assembly sitting yesterday and the conduct of the police in the matter.
Both human rights movement Aliran and the Centre for Public Policy Studies (CPPS) also condemned the manner in which the sitting was conducted.
“There was no need to have pushed for this sitting of the assembly when the status and legitimacy of (Datuk) Zambry (Abdul Kadir) as Perak menteri besar is still in question.
“This very crucial issue had not been legally settled, and yet the Umno assembly[persons] could not wait for the resolution,” said Aliran president P Ramakrishnan in a statement yesterday.
He said it was not even clear that the assembly had been convened legally and legitimately for the Barisan Nasional motions (to remove speaker V Sivakumar, elect Datuk R Ganesan as the new speaker, and change the membership of three committees) to be tabled and adopted.
Ramon Navaratnam Meanwhile, CPPS chairperson Tan Sri Ramon V Navaratnam said CPPS was “deeply troubled by the manner in which proceedings were held in the Perak state assembly.”
“The shouting matches and ensuing scuffles as well as the removal by force of the speaker were most regrettable,” said Navaratnam in a statement today.
He added that it painted a very poor image of Malaysia at home and on the international stage.
Ramakrishnan slammed BN politicians for reducing the much respected state assembly to the “law of the jungle”.
He said prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak should be held responsible for “this pandemonium” by orchestrating the BN’s takeover of the Perak government in February 2009, which he described as “a shameful way of acquiring power through brute force.”
He also accused the police of siding with the BN assemblypersons to help them take control of the assembly, and blasted them for acting in a high-handed manner by arresting people who did not pose any real threats to national security.
“On what basis did the sergeant-at-arms and the police forcefully and physically act to evict the lawful speaker of the assembly in this outrageous manner? Isn’t the assembly out of bounds for the police to walk in and act in this atrocious way?” questioned Ramakrishnan.
Similarly, Navaratnam took the police to task for their intervention in the Perak assembly sitting, saying it was “unacceptable and illegal”.
“Furthermore, the harassment and mass arrest of protesters is a violation of human rights, specifically the freedom of expression, which is guaranteed in our constitution,” added Navaratnam.
He urged the police to exercise greater restraint when facing dissent and to respect the principles of human rights, the Federal Constitution as well as the rule of law.
The CPPS also called for fresh elections to end the current political stalemate in Perak.
“[We] believe that it is time to go back to the polls and allow the rakyat, who governments ultimately serve, to elect their leadership in a free and fair election. Only through fresh elections can we hope to move forward…”
“This is important not only for Perakians but all Malaysians as the future of our democracy is at stake,” said Ramon.
Nothing short of fresh elections can end the political stalemate in Perak. Power hungry BN is not likely to respect rule of law, their barbaric style of power grabbing will perpetuate and may end in emergency or military rule. The powers that be have been acquiring military items to prepare for what?
BTW police also wear black uniforms? Do they have alternatively-coloured uniforms?
I, my family and my children saw the police acting illegally. Great lesson to us !
BN representatives should learn to behave like civilized reps to all Malaysian.
In the field of economics, there is a saying that what we don’t see with the naked eye is more important than what we can see. For example, some vandal who breaks a glass window will cause the house owner to give money (say RM100) to the glass maker to make a new window, which triggers a chain of positive economic effects throughout the economy. But the opportunity cost is invisible: what the house owner would have done with the RM100, which he saved for his consumption or investment, if his window had not been broken.
Same truth applies to politics and the recent Perak crisis, what we saw was the Perak Assembly Speaker Mr Sivakumar being forcibly removed by several men at the State Assembly on 7th May. And economics student/writer John Lee has rightly pointed out, what is unseen is the tremendous damage to democracy and respect for the rule of law, the separation of powers enshrined in the constitution.
I think the invisible damage is worse: the use of physical violence on a law-abiding citizen should be condemned by government leaders. If not, then it may be interpreted by the young and politically illiterate as an implicit official sanction of violence for the sake of asserting one person’s power over another.
Will criminal violence escalate after this shameful incident? I beseech the authorities to be wise and responsible and express remorse over the violent removal of the speaker instead of trying to justify it.
Perak is really a great state, two MBs, two speakers.