IPOH: Pakatan Rakyat's (PR) Perak State Assembly Speaker V Sivakumar was physically removed from the assembly yesterday amidst violent scuffling and commotion, while Barisan Nasional's (BN) newly installed Speaker Datuk S Ganesan took over.
Calm only returned to the hall hours into the standoff, with jeering, banging of the table and physical confrontation, after Ganesan announced that Perak Regent Raja Dr Nazrin Shah would be addressing the assembly.
Raja Nazrin, who had arrived at the assembly building at 9.30am, patiently waited until 3.10pm to deliver his officiating address. Not surprisingly, both sides later pointed fingers at each other, blaming the other for the pandemonium that went on during the day.
At the outset of yesterday's sitting, BN attempted to install MIC Perak secretary Ganesan as Speaker by tabling a motion before Deputy Speaker and independent Jelapang assemblywoman Hee Yit Foong.
After BN representatives passed the motion, Ganesan donned the official Speaker's robes and took his oath at BN's seating area before proceeding to hear three motions tabled by Sungai Rapat assemblywoman Datuk Hamidah Osman.
The three motions, seeking to change the members of the Standing Orders, Public Accounts and Special Privileges and Rights Committees, were passed by 28 BN representatives and three BN-friendly independents Jamaludin Mohd Radzi (Behrang), Mohd Osman Jailu (Changkat Jering) and Hee.
Sivakumar immediately denounced the three motions and held up a document, telling the assembly that he had rejected the motions on Wednesday in chambers.
Shouting erupted from 10am as assemblymen took their seats when Sivakumar insisted that the assembly would not convene until Perak Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir and the six BN executive council members had left the assembly.
The six exco members are Zainol Fadzi Paharuddin (Sungai Manik), Datuk Ramly Zahari (Manong), Datuk Hamidah Osman (Sungai Rapat), Datuk Saarani Mohamad (Kota Tampan), Mohd Zahir Abdul Khalid (Kamunting) and Datuk Dr Mah Hang Soon (Chenderiang).
Sivakumar maintained that Zambry and the six exco members were still suspended for 18 and 12 months respectively, despite the Federal Court's ruling on April 16 lifting the suspension.
Sivakumar had before this suspended the seven for showing contempt to the House when they failed to appear at a Special Privileges and Powers Committee investigating a complaint that they had accepted appointments deemed “unconstitutional”.
In Sivakumar's first orders for the day, he ordered the three independents to leave as he considered them as having resigned as assemblymen, despite an earlier Federal Court decision maintaining the status of the three representatives.
"The sitting will not commence until the 10 leave. My decision is final," Sivakumar repeatedly said to loud jeers from BN representatives and calls from PR's side for them to "get out".
Despite having his microphone switched off mid-way, Sivakumar persisted in ordering the 10 assemblymen to leave and told Zambry that motions tabled by "suspended members" were invalid.
Tempers flared upon the reconvening of the assembly at 2.15pm, when Sivakumar repeatedly ordered Ganesan to be ejected from the hall, calling Ganesan an "unlawful (tidak sah) Speaker" amidst shouting from both sides.
BN representatives moved to form a barrier between Ganesan and PR representatives when subsequently a brawl broke out.
Amidst the commotion, a group of PR assemblymen, led by Perak DAP chief and Sitiawan assemblyman Datuk Ngeh Koo Ham and former Perak menteri besar Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin, quickly moved to protect Sivakumar in his seat while more scuffles broke out on the floor.
Sivakumar remained at the Speaker's seat from the start of the assembly at 10am until he was forcibly dragged out by three plain-clothes "officers".
Moments later, Sivakumar's wife, who was in the assembly, demanded to see Sivakumar and was then taken out of the hall to meet him.
Police reinforcements were called in amid the violent tussles among the assemblymen despite Sivakumar's repeated orders that the police were not allowed into the assembly.
Following the commotion, the assembly saw a large presence of plainclothes "officers" who were believed to be Special Branch policemen and state government officials. Several PR assemblymen claimed assault during the pandemonium.
Met later, Ganesan, a former Sungkai assemblyman, said he did not anticipate any future problems when the assembly re-convened as BN had the majority in the House, citing the maxim "the majority rules".
Asked how he would deal with the intense opposition in the assembly, Ganesan said: "I won't be a dictator. I will do my duty as per standing orders."
Ganesan also denied claims that he was "illegally" brought to office, maintaining that he was lawfully elected by the majority of the assembly.
"The question of illegal speaker does not arise because BN has the majority. Sivakumar was removed as per standing order," Ganesan said.
Meanwhile, at a press conference, Sivakumar lashed out at the Bentara (sergeant-at-arms) for disobeying his orders to remove Zambry and the other "suspended" representatives but adhering to Ganesan's orders to remove Sivakumar from the Speaker's seat.
"My microphone was also switched off. Isn't this all an insult (hina) to the assembly and the Speaker? What is the aim of it?" Sivakumar said.
Sivakumar, who is Tronoh assemblyman, revealed that he was taken to a room inside the Perak Darul Ridzuan Building, where the assembly was housed, and was not permitted to leave until 90 minutes later when the assembly was adjourned indefinitely.