Monday, 11 May 2009

For Enlightened Malaysians Who Are Concerned About the Law and The Rule of Law

Agence France-Presse - 5/11/2009 9:52 AM GMT

Malaysian court rebuffs govt in tussle over northern state

Malaysia's ruling coalition was dealt a major blow Monday when a court ruled that its takeover of a northern state was illegal and that the opposition was still in charge.

Perak state has been in political limbo since February, when the Barisan Nasional coalition, which rules nationally, tried to oust the Pakatan Rakyat opposition alliance which won the state in elections last year.

After defections cost the opposition its balance of power, the coalition ruled out holding fresh polls and installed its own leadership, a move which triggered brawling and protests at the state assembly last week.

However, High Court Justice Abdul Aziz Abdul Rahim ruled Monday that the Pakatan Rakyat Chief Minister Nizar Jamaluddin was still the rightful ruler despite being sacked by the state's sultan.

"He is, and was, at all material times the chief minister of Perak," Abdul Aziz told the court, saying that Nizar could only be dismissed by a vote of no confidence in the assembly.

Nizar, who had been forced to vacate his office and official residence, said the opposition would meet with the sultan and ask him to dissolve the assembly to pave the way for fresh elections to end the unseemly power struggle.

"It is an historic day for all who love democracy and will be remembered for years and years to come," he said in a statement.

The Star daily's website cited an aide to Zambry Abdul Kadir, who was sworn in as the new state leader, as saying that the Barisan Nasional would respect the decision and vacate their government offices immediately.

Political pundits say that Pakatak Rakyat has a very good chance of reclaiming the state in new polls.

A defeat would be another humiliation for the Barisan Nasional which suffered unprecedented losses in general elections a year ago, and has lost a string of by-elections since then.

The Pakatan Rakyat won five states and a third of parliamentary seats in the March 2008 polls -- its best performance since independence half a century ago -- and another victory in Perak will help it maintain momentum.

Husam Musa, vice-president of the Islamic party PAS which is a member of the opposition alliance, said he hoped the Perak sultan would now give his consent for new polls.

"It is not about whether we are confident of winning the state again or not but it is a matter of principle for us to go back to the voters to resolve the political impasse that has existed for the past three months," he told AFP.

There were chaotic scenes in the Perak state capital Ipoh last Thursday as the assembly convened for the first time since February. Legislators scuffled and hurled insults while dozens of protesters were arrested outside.

The opposition's speaker, V. Sivakumar, was forcibly removed from his chair and dragged out of the parliament, triggering a melee as opposition legislators tried to shield him.

Source: MSN News

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