Court Observer says:
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak made a feeble attempt to rationalise his argument on the Perak power grab at a press conference in Manado North Sulawesi in Indonesia after attending the Summit Meeting of the Coral Triangle Initiative (CTI).
I quote part of a Bernama report (taken from the Malaysian Insider):
“Don’t forget… don’t blame Tuanku (Sultan of Perak). In the 2008 general election, the BN was the only party that had the majority in the State Assembly with 28 seats… the opposition pact is not registered and remains as three separate parties.
“At that time, if Tuanku had wanted to appoint Tan Sri Tajol Rosli Ghazali (the former mentri besar), he would have had the right because the BN was the only party that had the biggest majority.
“The Tuanku, in the spirit of democracy based on the resolution made by the elected representatives from the three opposition parties… (After) the Tuanku had received their written pledges, the Tuanku then appointed Nizar as the mentri besar,” Najib explained.
But now, the opposition has lost the majority in the state assembly and Sultan Azlan Shah had appointed Dr Zambry who was nominated by the BN using the same approach and based on legitimate principles without breaching the democratic system and constitution.
“This transpired according to procedures in line with the Perak State Constitution and parliamentary democracy. …
Article 16(2)(a) says “His Highness shall first appoint as Menteri Besar to preside over the Executive Council a member of the Legislative Assembly who in his judgement is likely to command the confidence of the majority of the members of the Assembly.”
A close scrutiny of this Article will reveal that the Sultan does not take into account the party affiliation of a member of the Assembly in consideration when appointing the Chief Executive of the State.
Theoretically, the Sultan could even consider an Independent Assemblyman for the post of Menteri Besar.
Coming back to the scenario as at 8th of March 2008 the Pakatan coalition had a total of 31 seats (DAP 18, PKR 7 and PAS 6). The BN coalition had 28 seats.
It was constitutionally right for the Sultan to appoint Dato Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin as the MB because the Sultan upon his own inquiry, had come to the conclusion that 30 other Assemblymen from PR supported Nizar.
At this stage, the Sultan may have been wrong in his judgement to appoint Nizar.
The Constitution also says that the State Assembly shall be convened not later that 90 days after initial dissolution (after the General Election). This is because one could take a vote of no confidence if they feel the Sultan’s judgement was wrong.
Nizar was appointed MB on his birthday, 17th of March 2008. In late April 2008, the State Assembly meeting was called.
If one were to look at the Standing Orders of the Legislative Assembly of Perak, the first order of business is the election of the Speaker.
It is an undisputed fact that Sivakumar who is also the DAP assemblyman for Tronoh was elected as the Speaker.
If the BN indeed had the numbers they could have initiated a vote of no confidence on Nizar and prove the Ruler was wrong in his choice. However that did not happen.
Assuming the BN did defeat Nizar in a vote of no confidence then as provided under Article 16(6) of the Perak Constitution the MB could request the Sultan to dissolve the Assembly. This is where the Sultan could use his discretion to call for a snap election or ask the MB to tender his resignation.
This is to enable the Sultan to repeat his exercise under Article 16(2)(a).
The Assemblymen for Changkat Jering (PKR), Jelapang (DAP) and Behrang (PKR) prior to their “defections” for reasons best known to themselves were part of the Pakatan coalition until late January 2009. BN lacked the legitimacy to form the Government because its majority came through defections.
As ruled by the High Court judge on 11th of May 2009, the BN made a costly mistake because they did not take a vote of no confidence from the floor to oust Nizar.
In conclusion, it appears that Najib is ignorant of the workings of the State Constitution although he was once the MB of Pahang from the year 1982 to 1986 or he is pretending to be oblivious to the real situation.
A first year law student will tell you that the appointment of the MB is not based on the number of seats a party wins but the individual who in the opinion of the appointing authority commands the majority support in the House.