Saturday, May 16, 2009

Mahathir on Crisis in Perak

Perak a lesson not to be too hasty says Dr M
By Lee Wei Lian
PUTRAJAYA, May 6 – Malaysia’s former prime minister Tun Mahathir Mohamad today alluded that the constitutional crisis that arose from the political crisis in Perak could have been avoided had Barisan Nasional (BN) not been so hasty to take over the state.

Malaysia’s longest-serving prime minister noted during a question-and-answer session after delivering a lecture at the Perdana Leadership Foundation that provisions in the Constitution were being tested due to the power grab in Perak and that the current situation was a lesson for all.

“Everyone should stick to the law, otherwise this country will be chaotic ... learn a lesson from Perak, never breach the provisions of the law, especially those of the Constitution,” Dr Mahathir said.

When asked during a press conference afterward to elaborate on what he meant by “a lesson”, he replied: “People should not rush to do things. Things must be properly considered as if you are in a hurry, we always make mistakes.

“It looks like Barisan Nasional were a little bit hasty. Maybe they were doing the right thing but it was hasty,” he said referring to the fact that BN did not wait till a sitting of the state assembly to table a motion of no confidence in order to oust then Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Nizar Jamaluddin.

According to Dr Mahathir, his understanding is that according to the constitution, the rulers do not have the power to remove a mentri besar and the only way to do so would be via a vote of no confidence.

BN had instead requested that the Sultan of Perak swear in Datuk Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir as mentri besar, which the ruler did on February 6. The ruler had also asked Nizar to resign but the latter did not comply.

This set the stage for a tussle between BN and Pakatan Rakyat (PR) over who is the legitimate government during which concerns were raised over whether the Sultan had acted outside his powers as described in the state constitution to ask for Nizar’s resignation.

The courts also appear to have ignore the constitutional separation between the judiciary and the legislatire when it overturned the suspension of Zambry and his six executive councillors by the state legislature’s rights and privileges committee.

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