Ethnic Indian speaker suspends entire Malaysian state ministry

February 19th, 2009 - 12:39 pm ICT by IANS  

Ipoh (Malaysia), Feb 19 (IANS) V. Sivakumar, speaker of Perak’s state assembly, has triggered a constitutional crisis by suspending Menteri Besar (chief minister) Zambry Abdul Kadir and his six executive councillors (ministers) from the assembly.
“As they cannot attend the state assembly sittings, the question arises over whether they can govern,” New Straits Times said Thursday.

Sivakumar, Malaysia’s first ethnic Indian presiding officer, used his “unfettered powers”, the newspaper said of the unprecedented development that follows a political crisis triggered by a change of guard.

Sivakumar said Kadir and his six members had failed to provide any explanation to the Committee of Privileges on the charge of having committed contempt of the state legislative assembly when they declared themselves as the chief minister and ministers.

The suspended chief minister and ministers told the New Straits Times they believed that Sivakumar had acted beyond his jurisdiction.

Kadir took over as the state’s chief executive after legislators crossed over to the Barisan Nasional (BN) alliance earlier this month, bringing down the earlier government of Pakatan Rakyat (PR), the alliance that is in the opposition at the federal level.

In a four-paragraph statement issued Wednesday evening, Sivakumar ordered Kadir to be suspended from the assembly for 18 months and the others for 12 months, with immediate effect.

The six ministers are Ramly Zahari, Saarani Mohamad, Zainol Fadzi Paharuddin, Mah Hang Soon, Mohd Zahir Abdul Khalid and lady member Hamidah Osman.

Sivakumar was elected when PR had the majority support. He has unlimited powers under the Standing Orders of the Perak legislative assembly.

There had been speculation over how he would act after the government changed.

Sivakumar refused to speak to the media after he issued the suspension order and attempts to get close to him were hampered by his “bodyguards”.

Kadir and his ministers have been asked to appear before a legislative committee headed by a member who belongs to the Democratic Action Party (DAP), a PR constituent.

Another development related to this crisis has been the demand by the Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) a constituent of the ruling BN that Sivakumar be removed and another ethnic Indian be made the presiding officer.

MIC is the largest party of ethnic Indians who number over two million, forming eight percent of Malaysia’s 28 million population.

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