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Published: Monday May 11, 2009 MYT 3:46:00 PM
Updated: Monday May 11, 2009 MYT 9:32:28 PM

Court rules Nizar is Perak MB; BN to appeal (Update 10)

KUALA LUMPUR: Barisan Nasional will appeal the High Court ruling on Monday that declared Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin as the rightful Perak Mentri Besar, and not Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir.

The appeal would be filed on Tuesday, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said.

In the meantime, he urged the people of Perak to remain calm while "the situation is resolved."

Pakatan Rakyat is however adamant that there is no "situation."

“This is a great day for the rakyat (people) because the Law and the Constitution are the true winners,” Nizar said in a statement.

“It is a historic day for all who love democracy and it will be remembered for years and years to come. Its positive effects for revitalising parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy is tremendous,” he said.

He said that everyone from both sides of the political divide would benefit from this ruling “because an independent judiciary is absolutely essential for the well-being of any country and its people.”

Nizar said that all previous decisions made by the Dr Zambry administration would be subject to review but not invalidated except for the tumultous May 7 sitting.

He also suspended the state legal adviser with immediate effect.

Nizar said that once he arrived in Ipoh, he would meet with his Pakatan exco at 11pm and a press conference could be expected after that.

Earlier, Zambry said he would apply for a stay pending appeal. This was immediately rejected by the court.

The court also ordered Zambry and the six executive councillors he had appointed to vacate their office.

An aide to Dr Zambry told the media that Perak Barisan Nasional will respect the court order and will vacate their offices at the state secretariat building immediately.

He added that Dr Zambry is on his way to Kuala Lumpur from Ipoh. Dr Zambry could not be reached for comment at press time.

Dr Zambry's private secretary Khairul Azwan Harun then asked the media to vacate the office, saying that their presence was "scaring off the staff."

By 5:30pm, several truckloads of Federal Reserve Unit personnel and police had arrived at the state secretariat building in Ipoh.

“Our presence is to maintain law and order,” said Perak CPO Deputy Comm Datuk Zulkifli Abdullah.

“We will not allow any illegal assembly or procession by either party,” he said.

Nizar left the KL courtroom saying he would seek an audience with the Sultan of Perak, Sultan Azlan Shah, to get his consent to dissolve the Assembly and call for fresh state elections.

He would make his request for the audience at a state function at the Istana Kuala Kangsar Tuesday morning.

In his ruling Monday, Justice Abdul Aziz Abd Rahim said that a new mentri besar could not be appointed as the office had not been vacated.

He said a mentri besar can only be dismissed by a vote of no confidence, and upheld the Stephen Kalong Ningkan ruling.

He noted that the Perak State Legislative Assembly had not held a vote of no confidence.

In 1966, Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Stephen Kalong Ningkan was ousted when the state governor showed him a letter of no confidence issued by 21 out of 42 legislators and asked Ningkan to resign.

Ningkan refused, saying the letters were not tantamount to a vote of no confidence in the state legislative assembly. He was sacked by the governor but eventually reinstated by the Borneo High Court, which saw the necessity of a formal vote of no confidence.

Mixed reactions (no, really!)
Not all Barisan reps were ready to accept the court’s ruling. Perak senior executive councillor Datuk Hamidah Osman said in a democracy, the majority rules.

“How can Pakatan Rakyat rule without having a majority?” she said in IPOH. “Why should the State Assembly be dissolved?”

Perak DAP deputy chairman M. Kulasegaran said the KL High Court’s decision confirmed that the appointment of Dr Zambry as mentri besar was unconstitutional.

Kulasegaran, who is also Ipoh Barat MP, said the Perak State Assembly should now be dissolved and fresh elections be called.

“All this while during the political impasse, the people ended up being the biggest losing party.

“Investors are shying away from the state due to the uncertainty,” he added.

In KOTA BARU, Kelantan Mentri Besar Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat said the court’s decision had “revived democracy in Perak that has been in a ‘coma’ for the past three months.”

In GEORGE TOWN, Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng described the High Court’s decision “a glorious victory” for the people of Perak.

He said the DAP reiterates its call for the dissolution of the state assembly and the holding of fresh elections to allow the people to choose their own government.

“The verdict clearly shows that Mohammad Nizar and his state executive councillors are the rightful leaders of the state government,” he said.

Earlier, he had said that the Opposition was willing to work with anyone to resolve the crisis in Perak.

“The crisis has caused shame not only to the people of Perak but also the entire country. What is more shameful is that the police forcibly took over the state assembly.

“I think we should respect the power that emanates from the ballot box,” he said.

Perak crisis
The political impasse in Perak goes back more than three months when three assemblymen from Pakatan quit their parties, saying that they would remain independent but pledging their loyalty to Barisan.

While the state assembly was evenly divided between Pakatan and Barisan with 28 seats each, the "pledge of loyalty" was sufficient to convince the Sultan of Perak that Barisan commanded the majority.

He refused Nizar's request for the Assembly to be dissolved and for fresh state elections to be called, instead asking the PAS man to step down as mentri besar.

Nizar declined, claiming he still retained the confidence of the Assembly.

The Sultan however gave his blessings to Barisan's choice of mentri besar, Dr Zambry.

Nizar filed for a judicial review on Feb 13, seeking a declaration that he is the rightful mentri besar of Perak and asked for an injunction to bar Dr Zambry from discharging his duties as the mentri besar.

On March 6, Justice Lau Bee Lan had ruled that there were constitutional issues involving the interpretation of Article 16 (6) of the Perak Constitution and later referred four consitutional questions to the Federal Court for determination.

However, on March 23, the Federal Court ruled that the case of who the rightful mentri besar is should be heard by the High Court.

Nizar’s lead counsel Sulaiman Abdullah, in wrapping up his submissions last week, said the Constitution was the “genius of the Malaysian people”, adding that the court had a duty to uphold it. Over the last few days, he had submitted that the Sultan, while granted powers in the Perak Constitution to appoint a mentri besar, could not dismiss him.

The only way Nizar could be dismissed, he said, was through a vote of no-confidence in the House.

He also said that a mentri besar could request for the State Assembly to be dissolved in the middle of a term without losing the confidence of the majority of the House.

Dr Zambry’s lawyer Datuk Cecil Abraham, however, argued that Nizar went by Article 16(6) of the Perak Constitution when he sought an audience with the Sultan – this article specifically provides for the mentri besar to request for a dissolution when he has lost the confidence of the majority in the House.

Under the article, Nizar is required to tender the resignation of his executive councillors when his request was rejected, he said.

Previous stories:
High Court to decide who’s the real Perak MB today
High Court to rule on who is the rightful Perak MB on Monday
Counsel: Sultan can appoint MB but can’t remove him
A-G succeeds in bid to intervene in Nizar’s case

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