More 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.
The Perak State Assembly sitting of 7 May
by Thomas Philips and Hermen Shastri
The Council of Churches of Malaysia (CCM) is deeply troubled and concerned at the events that unfolded at the Perak State Assembly sitting on 7 May.
The unruly scenes, the scuffles and the removal of the Speaker of the House by force have all violated the dignity of the State Assembly and made a mockery of basic democratic principles that citizens have come to expect from a nation that champions human rights.
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The power and authority of the Speaker have been undermined.
The police had overstepped their authority by the harassment of duly elected representatives, and of peaceful protesters exercising their rights of free expression guaranteed under the constitution. The police must remain above politics to have integrity and the confidence of the people.
The CCM realises that the political crisis in Perak is a great worry to all just and peace-loving citizens of our country.
The CCM feels that it is time for the government to uphold its commitment to building a democratic and peaceful Malaysia by returning power to the people to decide by whom and how they should be governed.
To this end, the CCM joins civil society in calling the Sultan to exercise his sovereign power by calling for fresh elections in the state.
This is the only way to resolve the current political impasse.
As Christians, we believe that justice will have its day, because God expects that the nation is governed by principles of righteousness and justice.
As churches pray for the speedy resolution of the political crisis in Perak, we remember the words of the Bible:
“To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice….The violence of the wicked will sweep them away, because they refuse to do what is just” (Proverbs 21: 3, 7).
Rev Dr Thomas Philips is president of the CCM while Rev Dr Hermen Shastri is general secretary.
Perak’s DIY state government
by Angeline Loh
The Barisan Nasional has much to answer for the state of affairs in Perak. The breakdown of the constitutional and democratic process in that state is all too evident from the controversial imposition of a BN government on the Perak electorate. A government, a majority of the electorate appear to have no confidence in as seen by their flocking to support the so-called de facto Pakatan Rakyat state government led by Nizar Jamaluddin.
The unpopularity of the Zambry-Umno administration comes as no surprise amidst the furore over its un-ashamed failure to adhere to constitutional procedure and law added to the blatant disregard for democracy and the democratic process. Are the electorate expected to respect a government imposed on them?
The retrogressive attitude of the Zambry administration smacks of feudalism, taking the state several centuries back in time when the sultanates ruled their kingdoms with absolute power. The chaos and near anarchy of the situation is deeply embarrassing to Perakians whose voices are loud but unheard by these feudal lords.
How legitimate is the current State government? The rough and procedure-less ouster of the former elected government – through the proclamation of a presumed loss of majority, when three State Assembly members declared themselves as ‘independents’ – can hardly be seen as reasonable justification for assuming a mandate to govern. The vital ingredient of a people-granted mandate is missing from the whole stew.
Whilst the see-sawing continues between courts in a needless legal battle arising from the lack of any recognised procedure in the ouster of the elected Pakatan Rakyat administration, the fact remains that any apparent legal rubber stamping of the un-elected BN state government will not necessarily cause a shift in the affections of the Perak electorate.
This BN government – which bulldozed itself into position and DIY-ed its mandate by strangely taking a private oath, not witnessed or approved by the public, in a small corner of a room and locking the then legitimate Speaker of the State Assembly in a store-room to prevent him from presiding in the State Assembly session – look like amateurs pretending to be professionals.
Their crude and rude methods of seizing power, still pending finalisation of legitimacy, will condemn them to amateurism in perpetuity. No amount of claims to higher literacy, or trappings of titles, wealth or power will change the fact of the origin of such behavior – hooliganism.
Legitimising such amateur DIY methods of power grabbing will only set a precedent for a domino effect of the breakdown of law, order and justice in this country. That would be a pity as there is one last chance to regain any kind of respectability by this boorish administration – by gracefully admitting that they do not have the peoples’ mandate to govern, and by seeking one through election by the people.
Legitimising such political tactics would appear to give the green light to replace all established institutions in the country by similar methods i.e. taking private oaths in a corner, doesn’t matter where, even a toilet would do, without any need for proper constitutional or legal procedure.
Amazingly, the police force and other security forces in the country seem willing to support these hooligan emperors, doing their bidding without question, mind or conscience. If this is so, not only the state of Perak , but the whole country has returned to the dinosaur era, as the current federal administration apparently sits in silent approval of this retrogression.
Unless sanity, justice and democracy is restored, we are in danger of being seen as Neanderthals under the illusion of being a civilised state but not realising how far from it we are.
Angeline Loh holds an LLM International Law and writes regularly on legal affairs and human rights
Ethical, moral framework for Perak crisis needed
by Ronald Benjamin
The constitutional crisis in Perak had been commented on and interpreted through various legal dimensions. I believe that a durable and honourable solution to this impasse lies in the ethical and moral framework, which the learned authorities should uphold if the right precedence is to be created for our country. Here are a few ethical and moral principles that need to be taken into account to resolve this crisis in an honourable way.
The affirmation of people’s sovereinty
The rakyat’s sovereignty in electing and dismissing their leaders through the election process should be upheld. It should not be subjugated to ceremonial powers or political manipulation, reflected in ethnic emotions. It is sad that such manipulation is still used for political expediency.
Ethical approach to people’s representation
It is vital to affirm the importance of Assembly members and Parliamentarians to choose the front door if they wish to defect to another party, which means they should go back to their electorate for a fresh mandate. Legitimising a backdoor approach through clever legal arguments only creates a political culture of betrayal, which could cause instability to the nation in the long run.
Affirming the separation of powers
The learned authorities should affirm the separation of powers of the legislature, judiciary and executive. There has been concern among discerning Malaysians on the usurpation of power of these independent pillars of democracy for political expediency, which brings back memories of past authoritarian rule.
Affirming right methods and procedures
Finally, it is vital to affirm the right principles to be converted into procedures and methods for the removal of a Menteri Besar or Prime Minister. Is it ethical for an Assembly member to go missing and then play a part in removing a legitimate government and its leader or is it right to attend a legitimate assembly and remove a leader?
In conclusion, it is vital for learned authorities to affirm the key principles of democracy with legal axioms to resolve the present constitutional crisis in Perak for the betterment of this country. That will determine the future direction of democratic values in this country.
Ronald Benjamin is a long-time commentator based in Ipoh.
Have a snap election and solve the problems in Perak
by Dato’ Tunku Yusuf Jewa
Looking at the antics and the goings-on between the BN and PR politicians in the silver state of Perak, I can see that the situation has now esclated into a crisis that has caused a lot of concern and confusion among the rakyat.
I think if the crisis is allowed to drag on indefinitely with no end in sight, very soon everybody will just wear out. We just can’t go on forever.
Just imagine what transpired within the last few days. First we got the news that the High Court declared Datuk Seri Mohd Nizar Jamaluddin as the rightful Menteri Besar of Perak. Then came the next day with even bigger surprise for everyone when we learned that Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir got a stay of execution pending his appeal from another court and thus claiming himself as the lawful MB of Perak.
The question is how many MBs do the people of Perak need to run the state? We are not sure if a lawful government even exists at all.
I think that it is a waste of good time and money for BN and PR to indulge in appeals and counter appeals by resorting to the courts to dispense justice. In my opinion, these clowning acts and sandiwara must be put to a full stop. Why can’t both parties go and ‘mengadap’ the Sultan of Perak and request for the dissolution of the State Assembly?
Both sides must be brave enough to face the people’s court when a snap election is called. BN and PR politicians must stop behaving like kids. Let the citizens of Perak decide which party they want and accept the government of their own choice.
Dato’ Tunku Yusuf Jewa is regular commentator from Kota Bahru
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