Thursday, March 5, 2009

Zambry’s Lawsuits Spark Confusion, Laughter and Accusations of Ineptitude

(Suara KeADILan) - Lawsuits filed by Umno’s Zambry Kadir against Perak Speaker V Sivakumar this week have received a bashing from both the public and the legal fraternity for creating further confusion and opaqueness in an already chaotic situation.

But to some pundits, this may actually be a deliberate move by Zambry and Umno.

Left with little legal recourse as it is indeed tough, if not impossible, to challenge the wide-ranging powers of the Speaker, they may have no choice but to bluster their way through and depend on the media under their control to do the rest of the legwork.

Indeed, the Umno-BN newspapers and e-news portals have tried to ridicule Tuesday’s emergency sitting as a ‘tree assembly’, a ‘tree meeting’ or even a ‘tree-House’. Yet the feedback from the public has been mostly admiration. Malaysians respected the qualities that shone through - the courage of conviction and simple heartfelt sincerity.

Some Umno media have even suggested that it is the right of the Umno-BN, as the ruling coalition, to misuse their might and abuse the federal machinery to their advantage. They say this happens everywhere in the world by every ruling government - even in developed countries.

True? As Japan, ask South Korea, ask England, ask the US. The people there will probably tell you that such cases do slip through here and there, but generally these incidences seldom escape notice and end up punished one way or another. Should this sort of corrupt culture be encouraged or even defended? Make you views known and loudly please, Malaysians.

Thanks for the laughs, Umno

In our tin-mining state of Perak, famous also for limestone caves, pomeloes and white coffee, the situation has become even more serious. Questions with far-reaching implications abound and await answers that may never come.

Take the Judicial Commissioner Ridwan Ibrahim, who heard all three lawsuits filed by Zambry this week. According to news reports, Ridwan’s two-year term already ended on Feb 28. Why was he allowed to hear the cases or worse still - was he deliberately chosen because his term had expired?

Then, how can Ridwan disallow Sivakumar from being represented by private lawyers, and worse still, insist that he be represented only by his enemy’s lawyer - for Zambry is not just Sivakumar’s political foe but also the plaintiff in the cases.

The legal fraternity has been very vocal and strongly critical about this issue of conflict of interest, which not only is technically incorrect but is also against the principles of natural justice.

And then there is that famous restraining order served on Sivakumar just yesterday afternoon. Even before the details were out, Umno newspapers and electronic media had the night before and in morning after screamed out loud that the emergency sitting was declared illegal.

Yet all the order said was: “It is hereby ordered that the 1st defendant, YB Encik V Sivakumar is restraint from convening any unlawful meetings purporting it to be a meeting of the Perak state legislative assembly.”

Yes, very “vague” as Sivakumar’s lawyer Chan Kok Keong pointed. What do you mean by unlawful? There is of course an answer to this. But has Sivakumar convened any unlawful assembly, was the emergency sittting unlawful?

“My client has not convened any unlawful meeting nor will he do so,” said Chan. “Mr Speaker has instructed us to state that he has not convened any unlawful meeting of the Perak Assembly, did not convene any unlawful meeting and does not intend ever to convene any unlawful meeting. Mr Speaker, the guardian and protector of the Privileges of the House would not do anything that would bring the house into disrepute.”

Chan and his team are also trying to discover if Siva was even represented at all during that hearing, which was heard in chambers and not in open court as befitting a matter of such public interest.

Nevertheless, despite the serious issues involved, the farce created by state secretary Abdul Rahman Hashim - probably at the instigation of the powers-that-be - is what Malaysians will remember. It will take lots and lots of time for him, Zambry and Perak Umno chief Najib Razak to live it down.

The howls of laughter and jeers that follow the image of a flustered Abdul Rahman and a panicked Najib and Zambry rushing to lock the gates of the by-now-famous Perak Darul Ridwan building - and then making a beeline to the Ipoh High Court to rustle up some ‘very funny’ cases against Siva - will long be hailed by Malaysians as they have a good cackle over their coffee.

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