Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Perak DUN Ruckus: Democracy Overworked

I was at the Perak State Legislative Assembly on an official duty on 7 May only to witness the ugliest scene in Malaysia's legislative history. It was expected that some kind of ruckus would happen in the DUN on that fateful day but what I witnessed was beyond my imagination.
I was shocked to see DAP and PKR assemblymen crossed the aisle (a very unparliamentary act) to harrass BN and Independent assemblymen and prevented them from speaking.
The shove and scuffle in the Dewan, which lasted for more than five hours, with intermittent break in between, made similar experience in Taiwanese parliament a storm in a tea pot.

By now, the Malaysian public already knew the what and how of the ruckus. What matters now is how they perceive it. Let me deal with some of the perceptions and give my own eyewitness account.

1. Sivakumar was deprived of his right as a Speaker.

No, it was not true. Nobody stopped Sivakumar from doing his job as a Speaker when the Dewan convened. He entered the Dewan and sat on the Speaker's Chair. He then ordered the seven BN assemblymen who had earlier been suspended, including the MB, and the three Independents to leave the Dewan. This was despite the court's decision which declared the suspension of the seven BN assemblymen was illegal. No reason was given as to why he ordered the ten assemblymen to leave. He also refused to allow Datuk Seri Tajol Rosli who had been standing for more than 15 minutes to speak. As the Speaker, he was the most powerful man in the Dewan he said. This means he is 'untouchable" and could do anything he wanted in the Dewan. So who deprived whose right?

2. The sitting was never convened because Sivakumar refused to begin the sitting unless the 10 ADUNs leave the Dewan.

Yes, Sivakumar did say that he would never begin the sitting unless the 10 ADUNs leave the Dewan. But he erred in law. Order 13(1) of the Standing Order clearly states that the order of business begins with the entry of the Speaker. Speaker's announcement is item no 4 in the order of business. So when Sivakumar entered the Dewan, sat on the Speaker's Chair and made "announcements" that the 10 ADUNs should leave the Dewan, the Dewan was already in sitting.

3. If Sivakumar was not deprived of his right as a speaker, then why was his microphone turned off?

Get the fact right. The microphone was turned off only after the motion to remove Sivakumar as a Speaker was duly passed by the Dewan. This means, when the microphone was turned off, Sivakumar was no longer the Speaker. He therefore had no right to speak as a Speaker. He should have honourably left the Speaker's Chair and taken his seat as an ordinary ADUN. By refusing to vacate the Speaker's chair, he actually obstructed the new Speaker from discharging his duties. In fact, it was a necessity that the microphone was turned off. Sivakumar kept shouting "saya tidak dengar apa-apa, saya tidak dengar apa-apa, saya tidak dengar apa" when Menteri Besar YAB Datuk Seri Dr. Zambry Abdul Kadir moved the motion to remove him. Don't we think that it was an obstruction of the business of the Dewan?

4. The Speaker cannot simply be removed.

If an MB can be removed, why can't a Speaker? A Speaker can be removed by a motion passed by a majority of the members of the house. On May 7, the MB used his authority under Order 13(2) of the Perak DUN's Standing Order to move a motion to remove the speaker. It is as simple as that. And it would be against the public interest if a Speaker cannot be removed.

5. The BN wanted to remove the Speaker because he is a member of the Opposition. This is unfair.

How would you run a westminster system of parliamentary government if a Speaker who is a member of the Opposition cannot be removed. The scenario would be like this. Whenever the government wants to introduce a Bill in the Dewan, the Speaker will find fault with government assemblymen and suspend them for one or two weeks, or worse still, for 12 or 16 months. (Don't rule out the possibility of arbitrariness in suspending the assemblymen as this is what Sivakumar exactly did in the suspension of the seven BN assemblymen previously). The Speaker will make sure that the number of government assemblymen he suspends would be enough to reduce them into a minority. No government Bill can be passed. What if the Bill is a Supply Bill. The government will be in a "loss of supply" position, i.e. having no money to spend constitutionally. Don't we think that this will lead to the collapse of a constitutional government? Removing the Speaker in the Perak case is a matter of necessity.

6. The police had acted arbitrarily by dragging Sivakumar out from the Dewan.

The police had been very cautious in taking action aginst the trouble makers. I bumped into a high ranking police officer outside the Dewan during the recess. Someone asked him why the police did not go in to stop the ruckus. His answer was that the police had taken enough heat in handling the protesters outside the Dewan. Interfering in the business of the Dewan would only worsen public perception toward the police. But why did the police finally come in and dragged Sivakumar out of the Dewan? The answer is simple. The situation was totally out of control. A Bentara was injured when he was trying to remove Sivakumar from the Speaker's Chair. The Speaker had no choice but to call the police in. And that was after five hours of shove and scuffle in the Dewan. My hunch is the PKR and DAP assemblymen purposely wanted the police to come in as part of their perception play. In fact the whole drama is just part of their perception play.
7. Democracy is dead
No. Democracy is not dead. It just overworked. Some people had just stretched the limit of democracy. In fact, it is bordering on anarchy. Yes, I mean it. It is anarchy with some leftist-leninist strand! Are some people slowly showing their true colors now?
But throughout the ruckus, I was wondering why PAS assemblymen sat quietly in the Dewan. Some were SMSing and others just looked poker faced. Hmmmm ....
Note: All views expressed in this article are solely of my own and not of the institution(s) that I am currently attached to.


  1. Salam,
    You said "A Speaker can be removed by a motion passed by a majority of the members of the house"..So what happen on that day? Do majority agreed that the speaker Sivakumar be replaced? What was the percentage?

  2. Salam,

    Dear Anonymous,

    All 28 BN + 3 Independent assemblymmen voted in favour of the motion to remove Sivakumar as the Speaker. It's 31-28 majority.

  3. thanks for the info. good to know what actually have happen. you should make known to the press.

  4. As a Speaker, Sivakumar have the absulute power to reject a motion! The motion never being approved to discuss in the house. So, how can the motion passed and replaced with a "haram" speaker? The world is watching! Everyone knew the truth!!!

  5. Dear Anonymous,

    Sivakumar does not have absolute power to reject a motion. Under Order 13(2) of the Standing Order, a Menteri Besar, or in his absence, an Exco member, can move a special motion in the DUN. On 7 May, the motion was to remove a Speaker. This motion, unlike other motions, cannot be rejected by the Speaker. Perhaps this is the truth which is not known to everybody.

  6. Salam Dr,

    Very informative. Useful.


  7. very informative article..

    may i copy and paste it to my blog?

  8. Dear Jess,

    Thank you for your interest. Yes, you may do so.

  9. Thank you Doc, this is a remarkably good post of the rioting by the Paktan ADUNS on 7th May 2009. No sane and peace loving Malaysian citizens should want to vote DAP and PKR gangsters ever again unless they want anarchist to rule in Malaysia.

  10. thank you Dr Marzuki.

    i translated it for my viewr though.but if u think i should edit some, please tell me so

  11. I just cannot understand why the oppositions keep on blaming others but themselves. They always say that they want democracy, so what happened in Perak is the principle of democracy: the majority should rule and the majority now is the BNs.
    Previously the PR held the majority, and they formed government,now, why should they create this nonsense fuss when they lost the majority of support. May be they have a twisted meaning of democracy... democracy only occurs when it favours them. nonsense.

  12. Dr, please do any comments from your ex collegue statements, Prof Dr Aziz Bari on what BN have done at Perak recently..TQ



  13. I wonder if you have seen the latest posting from Tommy Thomas in The Malaysia Insider: Why Sivakumar is still the Speaker

    As I found your explanation flawed and some of it doesn't make sense, do rebut what have been said by TT.

    If you have done that, good, here's another article that I would like to have your opinion from:

    Why no Federal Court written judgment on Perak – N.H. Chan

    Do that, and I would be here more often.


  14. Many thanks Inspiron. I haven't read the two articles. Will comment once I read them.

  15. salam..

    sir, xmegajar lagi kat UIA ke?