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'Tuanku, you've disappointed us'
Published:  Feb 7, 2009 2:36 AM
Updated: 4:28 AM

'He has now agreed to swear in a new Perak government with tainted reps and party-hoppers. Does he really believe these people have principles?'

On A constitutional crisis caused by the sultan

Maniam Sankar: I wonder what the Perak Sultan was thinking and so soon after his recent anniversary speech when he said that the palace should be impartial.

He has now agreed to swear in a new Perak government with tainted reps and party-hoppers. Does he really believe these people have principles? And that they represent their voters?

Your Highness, you have disappointed us.

Collin Michael Nunis: It is very sad to see the competent Perak government overthrown by undemocratic means.

Given that Pakatan is very confident that it would win by a bigger margin in a snap election, how would it sound like if the Perak Pakatan assembly persons resign en masse to push for an election?

This seems to be the only legal and ethical measure that should be taken.

Peter Yew: My personal observation is that Najib had no choice because he knows that if he allows a fresh election to be called, BN will suffer a heavier loss than on March 8, 2008.

This will certainly discredit his leadership having lost both the Permatang Pauh and Kuala Terengganu by-elections. He cannot afford a political career fumble at this time.

However, I believe that snatching a victory in this manner is counter-productive as it has angered many people who believe that the only way to resolve the deadlock is via a fresh election to get the people's mandate.

Many voters in Perak are angry that they have no say in which coalition should form the next state government.

The manner the electoral process is being disregarded does not give confidence to investors nor help the BN wrest back control of the other PR controlled states.

Junid: The Perak assembly is in a unique position of 28 PR vs 28 BN reps. The three 'independents' are mere frogs/mercenaries whose master is the highest bidder.

Furthermore, the status of these three independents as members of the house is questionable and is the subject matter of a court case.

To me it is a case of a ‘hung’ house and the rightful thing to do is to go back to the electorate for a decision.

I was shocked that a request for the dissolution of the house was not given to the leader of the government of Perak. In my view this is an injustice and an act of partisanship on the part of the ruler.

Perhaps he has forgotten his book on the constitutional monarchy, or was it, was so eloquently put by Rais Yatim, an academic exercise?

Rolando: A quick glance at the sequence of events leading to the ruler’s refusal to allow a dissolution of the state assembly to pave the way for a re-election and the ‘urgency’ to swear in a new state government does not speak much of our democratic process.

The ‘instruction and deadline’ given to vacate the Perak State Secretariat and for the assembly persons to return their car keys by 5pm is an arrogant and disrespectful act towards the people’s representatives, to say the least.

In comparison to even poorly run companies, employers are compelled by law to follow a due process before sacking their employees.

Apart from which, they also have a recourse in the form of an Industrial Court if justice is not seen to be done.

By the same token, if there necessitates a change of government in Perak, can we not conduct this in a civil manner and in accordance to the state constitution?

Surely we need not always appear to exercise highhandedness and instill fear to achieve our objectives.

White Shadow: As a learned former Lord President, His Royal Highness must be legally and technically correct to conclude that the PR state government no longer enjoys the majority support of the state assembly persons.

However, as the ruler of Perak, His Royal Highness must recognise the wishes of his people who, on March 8, 2008 had voted in 31 PR state assembly persons to form the state government through democratic means.

That, is without any doubt, the wish of the Perak people. No one person or procedure or political manoeuvre is going to deny this democratic act of the people.

Hence, His Royal Highness should take cognisance of his subjects’ wishes and do the right and noble thing - dissolve the state assembly to pave the way for fresh elections. Let the people of Perak decide again.

However, if His Royal Highness for all his wisdom allows BN to form the next state government, he must be aware of the following possibilities:

1. With such a small majority, if say, three BN assembly persons switch their allegiance to PR, is His Royal Highness going to ask PR to form the state government again?

2. If the two independent assembly persons are found guilty of the corruption charges against them, their seats will be declared vacant, thus by-elections will be called.

And we all know who will win in the by-elections. So will His Royal Highness again ask PR to form the new government?

Hence, to be seen as fair, His Royal Highness must act fairly and let his subjects decide through the democratic process by dissolving the state assembly.

S Ahmad: The decision of HRH Sultan Azlan Shah 'to step into the gallery' may have compromised the rule of law.

There appears to be a confusion as to the role of the sultan and matters which are rightly the prerogative of the judiciary. Thus the separation of powers doctrine may have been compromised.

A monarch, albeit a legally trained person, should not take the law into his own hands and must hand the matter to the judiciary, which is the body to interpret the constitution once there is an impasse.

In the meantime, the status quo must remain until the courts clear the legal impasse or if, at the request of the Pakatan MB, the state assembly is dissolved by the monarch for fresh elections to ensue. I would think that this is Malaysian Constitutional Law 101.

In the Malaysian system of constitutional supremacy and parliamentary democracy, the rulers do not have extraordinary powers beyond what has been prescribed under the written constitution.

The BN government must be made accountable for the subversion of the rule of law in the Perak crisis. To this end, it means that the BN government has subverted the federal constitution.

Unfortunately as a government in power, it has control of the police and the ISA which the BN under Mahathir has used excessively will not be used against themselves.

Forward-looking And Calm: Many people in Perak do not support the BN's move to form the government through crossovers. However, as much as I am against party hopping, the Perak sultan is wise and right. Let this be a lesson to PR.

It is PR's fault after all that they do not screen their candidates for elected office properly resulting in these crossovers. Many Perakians strongly believe that some money must have changed hands.

However, it is the majority of the other Perak assembly persons that will form the government. The Perak sultan is following this rule. And it is not the fault of the sultan. PR has lost its assembly persons as they were not screened properly in the first place. The fault lies with PR.

The lesson is that even if PR could get more than a two-thirds majority at the federal level and at the state level in the future, can PR keep their elected reps when money is flashed at them?

The lesson that PR must learn from this is that Anwar should stop enticing BN reps to crossover. Govern well in other states. We do not know - maybe more PR asssembly persons may be tempted by money to cross over, and other PR state governments may collapse too.

Many voters are fuming at these BN tactics and if PR continues with good governance, transparency, and corrupt-free ideals and adminstrations, they will form the next federal government and many more state governments will fall to PR.

BN may win now but they will lose big in the future. But can PR keep their elected reps and ensure they are not enticed by money? We hope by then, PR will have solid measures to screen their candidates.

Malaysians should not despair and look forward to the future. We hope more wise, honest, responsible, people-loving, corrupt-free and compassionate Malaysians will come forward to serve the country.

Daniel Chong: Your Highness, I am a Perakian since birth. By allowing defections to facilitate the forming of a new state government, you have actually encouraged party-hopping and betrayal of trust.

My argument is that the Supreme Court decision based on the federal constitution is erroneous. The judges who decided these earlier cases on defection did not take into consideration the people's interests.

Freedom of association and disassociation in the federal constitution should be read widely. The question is whether this article applies to elected representatives. One has to look at behind the words of the article before deciding the cases.

If that actually applies to elected reps, then why should the rakyat vote? The government of the day might as well scrap all future elections and place anybody they find suitable in Parliament and the state assemblies.

Your Highness, tomorrow if there is a crossover from Barisan Nasional to Pakatan, will you change the government again? Are you encouraging other states’ reps to defect by not allowing a snap election?

Your Royal Highness, once upon a time you were a fair and wise judge. Today you should continue practising the same wisdom and fairness for the sake of your people.