Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Is the Speaker 'above the law' or 'immune'

Salam Sejahtera,

Saya telah diminta oleh salah seorang pembaca blog saya untuk memberikan sedikit pendapat/penulisan berkenaan ‘kekebalan’ Tuan Speaker. Seketika, saya agak keliru kerana setahu saya, hanya Raja-Raja Melayu atau Pembesar-Pembesar Memerintah Negeri Sembilan (menurut Artikel 181 Perlembagaan Persekutuan) yang tidak tersentuh kedaulatan, hak kedaulatan, kuasa dan bidang kuasanya, kecuali atas sifat peribadinya, inikan pula Tuan Speaker. Namun, setelah memberi pemikiran yang mendalam, saya bertanggapan mungkin apa yang dimaksudkan ialah sejauh mana kuasa Tuan Speaker. Untuk itu, saya akan gunakan kes di Perak (iaitu penggantungan oleh Tuan Speaker terhadap YAB Dato’ Seri Dr Zambry & 6 ahli EXCOnya sebagai ‘case study’). Dengan izin, saya akan menulis di dalam Bahasa Inggeris dalam bahasa yang mudah untuk difahami bagi mendapat kesan yang optimum oleh pembaca blog saya.

1. Office of the Speaker – In England
1.1 In Erskine May’s Parliamentary Practice, 23rd Edition, at page 220 the chief characteristics attaching to the office of Speaker in the House of Commons are authority and impartiality. Further, his authority is symbolized by the Royal Mace borne before him when entering and leaving the chamber at the beginning and end of a sitting and in debate, all speeches are addressed to him and he calls upon Members to speak-a choice which is not open to dispute.
1.2 Confidence in the impartiality of the Speaker is an indispensable condition of the successful working of procedure. He takes no part in debate either in the House or in committee and votes only when the voices are equal, and then in accordance with rules which preclude an expression of opinion upon the merits of a question. Thus, that is why in England, at general election he stands as ‘the Speaker seeking re-election’, since he belongs to no party.
1.3 In the House of Commons, the Speaker’s functions fall into three main categories. Firstly, the Speaker is the spokesman or representative of the House in its relations with the Crown, the House of Lords and other authorities and persons outside Parliament. Secondly, he presides over debates of the House of Commons and enforces the observance of all rules for preserving order in its proceedings. Finally, he has administrative responsibilities, including chairing the House of Commons Commission, advisory panel on allowances.

2. Office of the Speaker – In Perak
2.1 Article 36A (1)(a) of the Perak Constitution fortifies the precedence given to the office of the Speaker when it mentions, that the “Legislative Assembly shall from time to time elect- (a) as Speaker, such person as the Assembly may determine who is a member or qualified to be member of the Legislative Assembly…”. Article 36A (4) of the same provides that “the Legislature shall by law provide for the remuneration of the Speaker and the remuneration so provided shall be charged on the Consolidated Fund”.
2.2 In the Standing Order of the State Legislative Assembly of Perak Darul Ridzuan, the provisions that make reference to Speaker are Standing Orders (‘S.Os’) 1, 2, 3, 4, 11, 12, 13, 16, 17, 18, 19, 22, 23, 24, 25, 27, 28, 31, 35, 36, 43, 44, 45, 46, 48, 67, 68, 71, 72, 75, 80, 83, 84,87, 88,89 and 90.
2.3 From the above, one can conclude the prominence given to the office of Speaker with such vast powers and privileges. The oft-cited S.O 89 by the Opposition (including YB Sivakumar on that fateful day of 7th May 2009) reads that “the decision of Mr. Speaker upon nay point of interpretation of any these Standing Orders, or upon any matter of practice, shall subject to a substantive motion moved for that purpose, be final, and Mr Speaker may from time to time issues rulings thereon”. On plain reading of S.O 89, it would appear that S.O 89 has been given ‘larger-than-life’ effects to that extent it has been subject to abuse. If one look at S.O 89 it relates only to a “point of interpretation of any of these Standing Orders”. The Speaker’s decision in the present case is not merely one of interpretation of the Standing Orders, but of the relationship of the Standing Orders to the Constitution and so this exclusion is not applicable.

3. Acts of the Ex-Speaker YB Sivakumar brought disrepute to the august Dewan (State Legislative Assembly)
3.1 YB Sivakumar’s acts in suspending YAB Dato’ Seri Dr Zambry fro 18 months and his 6 EXCOs for 12 months was in total violation of the State Constitution and ultra vires S.O 72. It was a decision not taken by the Legislative Assembly which would have to be determined, in accordance with S.O 72, by majority of votes of the Members present and voting.
3.2 I paused to urge my readers to compare the distinction between the former’s suspensions vis-à-vis YB Gobind Singh Deo, MP for Puchong by Dewan Rakyat last month. Thus, what my team had obtained in mid-April at the Federal Court (Declarations that the suspension was ultra vires and in violation of the Perak State Constitution) is nothing but the manifestation of a true proceedings in the Legislative Assembly be it State of Parliament. Otherwise, I’m sure my learned friends acting for the opposition would have, at the spur of that moment, filed an action in Court challenging the MP for Puchong’s suspension. Thus, the convergence between my team’s stand and the opposition is that anything that happens within the ‘four corners of the House’ is immune/privileged under Article 72 of the Federal Constitution.
3.3 However, the limits of parliamentary privilege must be recognised. In its Frist Report (1999), the Joint Committee on Parliamentary Privilege of the Westminster Parliament (HL 43-1/HC 214-I) [http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/jt/jtpriv.html] provided the following limitations on the definition of privilege:
“The meaning of “proceedings in Parliament” and “place out of parliament” [in Article 9 of the Bills of Rights] should be clarified and defined. Article 9 protects activities that are recognisably part of the formal collegiate activities of Parliament.
The right of each House to administer its internal affairs within its precincts should be confined to activities directly and closely related to proceedings in Parliament.”
For those who require further readings, please refer to the cases of Stockdale v Hansard (1839) 112 ER 120; Pepper v Hart [1993] AC 593; and Prebble v Television New Zealand Ltd [1995] 1 AC 321.
3.4 I have had the occasion to issue my official statement on April 29, 2009 on the effects of the Federal Court’s declaration nullifying the suspension of YAB Dato’ Seri Dr Zambry and his 6 EXCOs and not being repetitious, I state my reasons why the Speaker’s decision is unconstitutional and ultra vires:
(a) The Speaker’s decision has the effect of circumventing and nullifying the proper allocation of accountability and functions prescribed in the Perak Constitution i.e effective exercise of the Sultan’s power to appoint the Mentri Besar set out in Article 16(1) and (2) of the Perak Constitution. I paused here to say why didn’t YB Dato’ Seri Ir Nizar sue HRH the Sultan of Perak since it was his HRH the Sultan of Perak that appointed YAB Dato’ Seri Zambry!
(b) The Speaker’s decision corrupts the overriding principle of democratic accountability that HRH the Sultan of Perak should command the confidence of a majority of the properly elected members of the Assembly. Such suspension is nothing but entrenching BN’s working majority in defiance of the will of the full Assembly. I would simply say, it’s a fait accompli!
(c) The Speaker’s decision (which was the decision of the Speaker alone) is not, and cannot be, the decision of the Committee on Privileges since S.O 75(3) makes clear that the quorum for select committee (of which the Privileges Committee is one) shall be three members.
(d) The Speaker’s decision exceeded the powers of even a properly constituted Committee on Privileges. Their powers are spelt out in S.O 72 (2) and 72 (3), wherein the function of the Committee after due deliberation is to report on an alleged breach of privilege to the Assembly.
(e) Thus, the Speaker’s decision was plainly arrived at in a procedurally improper manner (cf., JB Jeyaretnam v Attorney General of Singapore [1987] LNS 96 in which Chua J accepted there, in Singapore, that the Committee of Privileges had acted in accordance with the principles of natural justice).

I have laid down the examples of the abusive acts by the Ex-Speaker (YB Sivakumar). I for myself definitely concluded that he has brought to disrepute the office of the Speaker. Now, why the hues and cries that he was wrongfully removed. One must be responsible for one’s acts.

Sebagai kata akhir, untuk pembaca blog saya yang kurang arif tentang undang-undang, saya mencadangkan agar merujuk semula kepada kenyataan rasmi saya (Bahagian 1) di dalam blog saya di mana isunya adalah hampir serupa dengan apa yang diperkatakan diatas dan untuk maklumat mutakhir, kenyataan rasmi saya (Bahagian 2) juga dirujuk.
Saya berharap, dengan penerangan panjang lebar diatas, tidak akan ada lagi ‘suara-suara sumbang’ (atau pepatah Melayu, rumah sudah siap pahat masih berbunyi) bahawa tindakan bekas Speaker (YB Sivakumar) adalah benar dan tidak boleh dicabar kerana ianya terlindung oleh Artikel 72 Perlembagaan Persekutuan.

15 comments:

  1. boss., bagilah satu library punya reference pun., the opposition will never accept the facts.. camne nak buat pun tak tau la..
    btw, i've promoted your blog to my classmates and the feedback is positive, the love your writing (lol).... boss mmg HEBAT, full stop

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  2. salam,

    thanx dato. indeed you did a great job to clear the mist of the confusion..

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  3. salam
    nice blog..i will link your blog as it will be my reference sources of legal issue.
    Keep going to defend up the truth.

    salam takzim
    ZHARIF

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  4. To pahitperia,Aku & Zharif Badrul;

    Thank you for the comments. I will keep on writing due to your words of encouragement.

    I am sad, at one end we say we want 'civil society' but at the other end we dont listen/take the views of ruling Government! This tactic of 'demonisation' by opposition must stop! Lets start from here.

    Salam Perjuangan

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  5. Salam Dato Hafarizam,

    Kenapa tidak ada tindakan kepada YB Sivakumar kerana menghina mahkamah semasa peristiwa 7-May lalu. Perkara ini tidak boleh dibiarkan berlalu begitu saja takut jadi precedent dikemudian hari.
    Dimana nak letak Kedaulatan Undang-Undang.

    Wassalam

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  6. Dear Datuk,

    pengumuman Sivakumar setelah dia masuk ke dewan ialah : beliau menolak semua usul untuk dibentangkan. soalan saya, adakah sivakumar berhak menolak usul Dr Zambry, yg ingin menggantikan dirinya?...kalau tidak,boleh berikan penjelasan SO mana yg terlibat untuk itu?

    sekian terima kasih

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  7. Dear Jess,

    SO yang terpakai ialah SO 89 tetapi ianya hanyalah untuk interpretasi peraturan mesyuarat sahaja. Apa yang dilakukan oleh YB Sivakumar ialah 'clear defiance' terhadap Perintah Mahkamah Persekutuan yang kami perolehi pertengahan bulan April. Isunya disini bukan lagi perundangan tetapi 'politik' pada hemat saya.
    Terima Kasih

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  8. thanks dato'.

    is this the right SO?

    "Order 89 states that the decision of the speaker upon any point of interpretation of any of these Standing Orders, or upon any matter of practice, shall be subject to a substantive motion moved for that purpose, be final, and the speaker may from time to time issue rulings thereon."

    jadi, menurut fahaman saya(tolong betulkan jika saya salah),berdasarkan SO ini, "announcement" yg sivakumar buat utk menolak semua usul selepas announcement menyuruh 10 ADUN keluar adalah sah...

    bagaimana Dr Zambry boleh mencadangkan usul untuk menggantikan speaker baru, jika Sivakumar telah membuat "announcement" utk tidak menerima sebarang usul?

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  9. Dear Jess,

    Announcement yang dibuat oleh YB Sivakumar menyuruh 10 ADUN keluar adalah tidak sah, 'in contempt' terhadapa Perintah Mahkamah dan bersifat 'excessive use of power'. Apa yang berlaku sebenarnya adalah, setelah Sivakumar berdegil untuk tidak mengiktiraf Perintah-perintah Mahkamah Persekutuan yang berbentuk 'deklarasi', ialah YAB Dato Seri Dr Zambry telah membawa usul dibawah SO 13(2) yang berbunyi "The Assembly may, upon a motion to be moved by the Mentri Besar or in his absence a member of the State Executive Council to be decided without amendment or debate which may be made without notice and shall take precedence over all other business, decided to proceed to any particular business out of the regular order" untuk 'remove' YB Sivakumar selaku Speaker dan seterusnya, menurut Article 36A, YB Hee Yit Foong (selaku Timbalan Speaker) telah mempengerusikan sidang Dewan utnuk tujuan perlantikkan YB Dato' Ganesan sebagai Speaker yang baru.
    Sekian, terima kasih.

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  10. Datuk,

    Saya bersetuju dengan pertanyaan jess@pu3pulai. Perkara berkenaan tindakan Speaker yang dianggap "final" @ kebal dan tidak boleh dipertikaikan oleh mana-mana pihak itu adalah sebenarnya menjadi asas pertikaian ini.

    Apakah terdapat "kecacatan" terhadap undang-undang hingga membenarkan Speaker secara tidak jujur mengambil kesempatan untuk mempertahankan kepentingan peribadi dan politik beliau?

    Bagi saya, tidak mungkin seorang Speaker itu kebal dan berada di atas undang-undang kerana ia boleh merencatkan perjalanan proses undang-undang itu sendiri.

    sepertimana jess@pu3pulai memberi contoh yang paling tepat. Bagaimana hendak "remove" Speaker kalau Speaker itu sendiri tidak mahu terima usul pemecatan beliau.

    Atau ... apa akan berlaku jika atas dasar kekebalan ini, Speaker membuat satu ketetapan bahawa Menteri Besar boleh dipilih dari kalangan bukan Melayu/Islam dan Sultan tidak ada kuasa untuk memperkenankan persidangan dan pembubaran DUN?

    Jikalau undang-undang membenarkan perkara ini, I must say, something is wrong somewhere lah.

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  11. Dato,teruskanlah perjuangan demi Bangsa Agama dan Negara.Saya sokong anda 200%.

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  12. Dear Sinbad,

    Maaf kerana lambat menjawap soalan. Saya bersetuju bahawa terdapat 'lacuna' di dalam perundangan kita. Justeru itu, kes YB Sivakumar akan menjadi satu 'precedent' di dalam perundangan perlembagaan Malaysia.

    Berkenaan Speaker membuat ketetapan bahawa Mentri Besar bolehlah bukan keturunan Melayu atau tidak bersetuju dengan pembubaran Dewan (atau sebaliknya), ianya mustahil akan berlaku kerana itu adalah kuasa mutlak DYMM Paduka Seri Sultan. Jikalaupun ia dilakukan oleh Speaker, ianya tentu akan ditentang di Mahkamah.

    Sekian terima kasih.

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  13. ASKUM DATO. BAGI KEPENTINGAN RAMAI DAN YANG DI LUAR SANA YANG BANYAK LAGI YANG TIDAK MEMAHAMI APA YANG BERLAKU DI PERAK, DICADANGKAN TULISAN DATO WAJIB DITULIS DALAM B. MALAYSIA. MALU ORANG MELAYU TAK BOLEH BERBAHASA DAN MENULIS MELAYU. CONTOHI YAA DATO SEGARA IAITU SEORANG HAKIM YANG BUKAN MELAYU DAN AMAT BAIK PERCAKAPAN DAN TULISANNYA DALAM BAHASA. IA CUKUP MARAH JIKA ADA PEGUAM YANG MINTA BERHUJAH DALAM B. INGGERIS TERUTAMA ORANG MELAYU. SAYA PERNAH MENDENGAR SENDIRI MARAHNYA SEORANG PEGUAM YANG MEMINTA KEBENARAN UNTUK BERHUJAH DALAM MAHKAMAHNYA DI KEDAH PADA 1994. DI HALAUNYA PEGUAM INI. JADI BELAJARLAH MENULIS DGN B,. MELAYU. CUKUP LENGKAP DAH B. MELAYU INI. KALAU KITA TAK GUNAKAN SIAPA LAGI? PENGHUNI GUA / ARIF OMAR

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