Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Martin Jalleh reports from under a raintree in Ipoh

(Pic courtesy of Knights Templar)


(MJ reporting from the site where history was created)

I have never felt so proud of being a son of Perak than today. It was an historic and unforgettable moment. It was a moment made up of heroic courage accompanied by an unending chorus of “Hidup Perak.” It was a moment when Perakians could hold their heads high and know that there is hope.

For once “Malaysia Boleh” meant something very significant to me. What took place happened in Bolehland! In the midst of the crowd there was a placard which read: “The Whole World is Watching.” Yes, the whole world saw how the people of Perak and their leaders refused to bow, bend and buckle under Najib’s nefarious tricks and Umno’s manipulative maneuverings.

The whole world saw how a brave bunch of State Assemblypersons refused to be bribed, bought over, bullied or budge and how they are ready to face the possible consequences of their bravery in standing up to the powers-that-be who brazenly and shamelessly robbed the people of their State Government.

Today, Mohd Nizar Jamaluddin was voted and confirmed unanimously in a motion of confidence the true and legitimate Menteri Besar of Perak by the Perak State Assembly. This took place in an “emergency sitting” held under a raintree and an open sky – in the approving and affirming presence of the people.

It was an “emergency sitting” in every sense of the word. Locked out of the state secretariat and wanting to avoid any untoward incidents with some 30 thuggish men (Umno supporters?), the Pakatan Aduns made their way to a vacant lot some 200 meters from the state secretariat.

For a moment it seemed that the Pakatan leadership was unsure of what was the next course of action. A hush-hush discussion transpired after which to everyone’s surprise the Speaker announced that the emergency sitting would be held at the vacant spot under a raintree! Even the Aduns themselves seemed surprised! Nizar would later explain the sitting under the tree was done according to the “doctrine of necessity”!

As the Speaker and the Aduns took their place, there were whispers amongst the large crowd gathered, of the venue being the perfect place to hold a State Assembly sitting. A man standing next to me said that it was his first time attending a State Assembly sitting and they should have more of such assemblies which the public can easily attend!

A lady quipped: “You see how transparent PR is. We even hold a State Assembly sitting out in the open! We have nothing to hide. It is an open fact that Nizar is the legitimate MB and the PR State Government is that voted in by the majority of the people.”

The Speaker was in his full official regalia. The PR Aduns stood before him. Pakatan officials and security volunteers formed a ring around them. The sea of people surged closer encircling the two groups to witness the serious, solemn and significant event.

It was truly a touching and hilarious moment when the Speaker asked the Aduns to voice out and to provide a show of hands whether they agreed to the motion of confidence in Nizar being the legitimate MB, the crowd very spontaneously and spiritedly shouted “Setuju!” The Aduns then smilingly explained to the crowd that only the Aduns are to responsd.

Some who were not familiar with the formalities of a State Assembly sitting felt strongly that they were very much part of the assembly and had the right to express their confidence in their MB! Two other motions were passed - one calling for the dissolution of the assembly to pave the way for fresh state elections, and the other, the adoption of the suspension of Perak Mentri Besar Zambry Abdul Kadir and six Exco councillors he appointed.

An Adun, when supporting one of the motions, began by speaking of an “institutional crisis” in Perak and in the country. He then corrected himself and mentioned “constitutional crisis”. He was right in the first instance - the country’s institutions are breaking down!

This has been so well highlighted by Bar Council president Ambiga Sreenevasan: “Our institutions, that is the courts, the police, etc., are being tested and we can judge for ourselves whether they are acting independently or not... It is so obvious they are not.”

She lamented that the tragic events in the state “shows a total breakdown in relation to the structures and sanctity of the legislature. It shows a violation of the role of the Speaker and an intrusion into the processes of the legislative assembly. The Speaker, much like the status of the Attorney General, should also be seen as an institution in its own right.”

The police who were supposed to be impartial ignored the instructions of the Speaker. They displayed an intimidating presence. Ipoh OCPD Azisman Alias insisted there would be no negotiations, causing State DAP chief and senior exco member under the PR government Ngeh Koo Ham to remark: "It is a very sad day. We have descended into a police state."

Lim Kit Siang shares a similar concern: “Today, the doctrine of separation of powers has suffered another grievous blow with the powers and privileges of the legislature in Perak, attacked by the executive, both federal and state, which is also seeking to invoke unprecedented judicial interference with the legislature.”

In spite of the disturbing trends the courage displayed by the MB, Speaker and the Aduns of PR offer the people much hope. History will remember how a Perak State Assembly was forced to hold a sitting under a raintree during which the Speaker and the Assemblypersons literally stood up for the justice and the truth and against the might of those who are willing to stoop so low in their political subterfuge and scheming.

Martin Jalleh
3 March 2009

[Images courtesy of Malaysiakini]

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