Thursday, May 7, 2009

Rule of law in jeopardy- Malaysiakini

Perak Speaker Sivakumar being dragged,abused and manhandled by security unknown individual out of Perak State Assembly .

Param Cumaraswamy May 8, 09 1:33pm

On March 4, I appealed to the Sultan of Perak to dissolve the state legislative assembly to avoid the crisis there leading to anarchy.Indeed what happened in the state legislative assembly yesterday was anarchy.

I have never seen or heard of such chaos in any legislature in the world. That such commotion could occur in a state where the ruler was once the Lord President of the Supreme Court is beyond belief.As I said previously he could have averted all these if he had dissolved the legislative assembly on Feb 5, and left it to the rakyat to elect a new government in accordance with the fundamentals of democracy.Rulers must not only be above politics but must be seen to be so.Lawyers will continue debating the validity of appointments and removals of the Menteri Besar and the speaker and the crude manner in which V Sivakumar was removed.They will continue to debate on the validity of motions adopted yesterday and at the previous meeting under the tree.Each will have an interpretation of the applicable provisions of the constitution and bye laws.As I said on March 4, this is not the time to look into the technicalities and strict interpretation of the law, constitution and bye laws.

That one disputed speaker could call in the police to assist the sergeant-at-arms to remove the other speaker who was indeed removed forcibly did not speak well of the calibre of these state representatives.Procedural fairness was thrown overboard in the assembly yesterday. The Perak Regent Raja Nazrin Shah's presence there and his delivery of the royal address may not be seen as the ruler not being above politics.What about the court ruling?What is most disconcerting is all these happened when there was pending before the High Court an application to determine who is the rightful Menteri Besar!Why the unholy haste to summon the legislative assembly? The state constitution does not expressly provide that if the assembly is not convened within six months since the last session the assembly is automatically dissolved.What happens if on Monday the High Court declares that the rightful Menteri Besar is Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin?

On the other hand if the court finds that Zambry Abd Kadir's appointment was valid, the public perception would be that the events of yesterday pre-empted the decision of the court.The independence and impartiality of the court would be called into question. .The ugly events of yesterday clearly showed that there can never be an orderly and stable government in Perak unless the legislative assembly is dissolved and fresh elections held.I therefore urge Sultan Azlan Shah to exercise his discretionary power under Article 36(2) of the state constitution and dissolve the legislative assembly.More than anybody else he should know better the finer principles of democracy and its values for a state under a just rule of law.

PARAM CUMARASWAMY is a former Malaysian Bar president (1986 - 1988). He also served as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers by the UN Commission on Human Rights from 1994 to 2003.