Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Black Thursday: Live Cover of the Perak assembly sitting

By SK English News

A quick recap for those who have just joined the coverage. Overzealous police action in the morning has resulted in more than 60 arrests, with several MPs and ADUNs also detained.

Before Raja Nazrin could officially declare the sitting open and proceed to give his speech, the Umno-BN tried to remove Speaker V Sivakumar.

Sivakumar had earlier asked BN Menteri Besar Zambry Kadir and nine others to leave the hall before the sitting could be declared open by Raja Nazrin.

Umno-BN ADUNs immediately kicked up a ruckus, that led Raja Nazrin to head for the royal suite nearby to the assembly hall. Sivakumar as Speaker accompanied him out of the hall.

Once Sivakumar was outside, Zambry led a revolt and with deputy Speaker Hee Yit Foong as chair, tabled motions to remove Sivakumar and appoint MIC’s R Ganesan as Speaker.

Sivakumar’s mike was also disabled by the state secretariat staff, who have refused to switch it back on again. Although, he is much less audible than Ganesan, he is still in possession of the Speaker’s seat and has continued to demand that all 10 disqualified ADUNs, including Zambry, leave the hall.

Ganesan, who tried to commandeer the sergeant-at-arms’s table, is arguing with Pakatan ADUNs who are questioning his presence in the hall. An MIC politician, Ganesan is not even an elected representative.

Said Lee Boon Chee, PKR MP for Gopeng: “We are still in stalemate. The Umno-BN can do whatever they wish but as far as we are concerned, until the 10 leave the hall, the sitting has not started and will not start.”

“We do not recognise the very regrettable actions that happened just now, when they tried to push out Sivakumar. We also protest in the strongest terms the refusal by the security and the state secretariat staff to respect the Speaker’s authority.”

Northwestern Perak state has two chief minister - Zambry and Pakatan Rakyat MB Nizar Jamaluddin - and two state governments ever since Prime Minister Najib Razak launched a ruthless power grab that pushed out the Pakatan administration in February.

It now also has two Speakers! All eyes are now on Raja Nazrin, to see if he will recognise Ganesan.


1.05 pm Ganesan has called for another one-hour recess. He had tried in vain to shove Sivakumar out from the Speaker’s seat! Yes, it descended to that level. Pakatan ADUNs rushed to help Siva as Umno-BN assemblymen too cam over. The two groups nearly fought. In the end, the recess was called but nobody seems to be leaving their chairs!

1.00 pm A shouting match has begun. Ganesan, who was given a mike, tried to restart proceedings but was drowned out by loud shouts from the Pakatan ADUNs.

12.50 pm Zambry is not in the hall. He went out during the recess and there is speculation that he is now with Raja Nazrin.

12.40 pm Ganesan is still arguing with Pakatan ADUNs, who have protested his presence in their part of the hall. He has shifted back to near Zambry’s seat. The MIC politician is not an elected representative.

12.30 pm KL High Court said it will decide who is the rightful Menteri Besar of Perak on Monday.

12.15 pm Ganesan, in robes, is seated before a makeshift table as the Speaker’s seat is still occupied by Sivakumar. Siva’s mike is still disabled, but he has again demanded that the 10 leave the hall.

12.00 noon All eyes are now on Raja Nazrin, if he will return to the hall and proceed to give his speech. As far as Pakatan is concerned, the sitting hasn’t begun and won’t until Zambry, the six exco, and the three Independents leave the hall. If Raja Nazrin returns and continues proceedings with Ganesan in charge, it would be an implicit sign of approval for the new Speaker. The recess called by Ganesan ends at 12.15 pm.

11.45 am Said Lee Boon Chee, PKR MP for Gopeng: “We are still in stalemate. The Umno-BN can do whatever they wish but as far as we are concerned, until the 10 leave the hall, the sitting has not started and will not start. We do not recognise the very regrettable actions that happened just now, when they tried to push out Sivakumar. We also protest in the strongest terms the refusal by the security and the state secretariat staff to respect the Speaker’s authority.”

11.35 am Pakatan ADUNs have decided not to leave the hall. Same with the Umno-BN ADUNs, who have passed the remaining three motions with Ganesan chairing. The other three motions that have been proposed are the election of new members for the Public Accounts Committee, Standing Orders Committee and Special Privileges Committee.

11.30 am Pakatan ADUNs are now huddled around MB Nizar Jamaluddin, as Sivakumar lambasts the Umno-BN for trying to remove him, saying it was outright discourtesy to even try to do so before Raja Nazrin opens the sitting and gives his speech.

11.20 am Ganesan has called a recess. The ADUNs were starting to file out of the hall but some appear to have changed their minds and stopped near the door. Sivakumar is still in his Speaker’s seat while Ganesan has taken a position behind Zambry’s chair.

11.15 am At a different corner in the assembly hall, huddled with the Umno-BN ADUNs, Ganesan has donned a set of robes and began conducting the sitting.

11.00 am Sivakumar refuses to acknowledge the attempt by his deputy Hee and Zambry to push him out. He is still in his Speaker’s seat. “That’s right. The move to get rid of him when he was escorting Nazrin out was such a blatant and childish attempt. This is such a black day for Perak and the nation as a whole. We must be the laughing stock of the region,” said Pakatan’s Tian.

10.50 am Sivakumar’s mike has been disabled. Jelapang’s Hee who is deputy Speaker chaired and passed a motion to appoint BN’s R Ganesan as Speaked.

10.45 am It looks like Zambry and team are trying to organise a revolt and take over the assembly hall while Sivakumar is outside escorting the Regent, who has left for the royal suite nearby.

10.40 am Raja Nazrin is leaving the assembly hall. Sivakumar is escorting him to the royal suite nearby. Zambry and the Umno-BN are trying to stop him from re-entering the hall.

10.35 am Criticism is pouring in, asking why the assembly hall security is not following the orders given by Sivakumar. “This is civil disobedience and by lawmakers too!,” a reader following the events emailed.

10.30 am Sivakumar looks for the sergeant-at-arms and asks the security to remove Zambry and the nine others.

10.25 am Pandemonium breaks out as Zambry tries to push through the motion to remove Sivakumar as Speaker. Siva raises his voice: “Keluar!” he shouts, insisting he won’t continue proceedings until all 10 of them leave.

10.20 am Outside the assembly building Parit Buntar MP Mujahid Yusof Rawa has been arrested. Meanwhile Sungai Siput MP Jeyakumar Devaraj has left the assembly and is promptly arrested just outside the building. The Umno-BN ADUNs in the hall are still refusing to move from the hall as ordered by the Speaker.

10.15 am Sivakumar has refused to proceed as the 10 ADUNs, including Zambry, have refused to vacate the assembly hall.

10.10 am Sivakumar has also asked Hee Yit Foong, Mohd Osman Jailu and Jamaluddin Radzi to leave as the court cases have not been settled. The House is in an uproar, with the Umno-BN MPs refusing to budge and creating a ruckus.

10.05 am Speaker Sivakumar has asked all who were not invited to leave the assembly hall. He has also Zambry and his six executive councillors, who were suspended for vreaking House rules, to leave. Otherwise, the sitting will be stopped.

10.00 am Journalists and other invitees have been allowed to move into the building after Raja Nazrin and the assemblymen take their seats. A few more arrests have just been made outside the assembly building. One of them is Pas Youth chief Salahuddin Ayub.

9.50 am Raja Nazrin has arrived and has inspected the guard of honour. He is now being ushered into the building. The sitting begins at 10 am. Attention is now focused on what the Regent will say in his speech if he makes one.

9.40 am Speaker V Sivakumar and later on BN Menteri Besar Zambry Kadir have arrived and made their way into the assembly building. All 59 assemblymen, including Nizar, have arrived and have stationed themselves outside the building to await the Regent’s arrival.

9.30 am Police, who swooped in on protesters and onlookers standing across the road to the state assembly building and at a nearby restaurant, are stepping up already-tight security ahead of the arrival of the Regent, Raja Nazrin Shah. Their unnecessarily tough action has created a far tenser situation than the protesters, who were easily outnumbered. The number of arrests so far is probably around a score at this point in time.

9.20 am DAP MPs M Kulasegaran and Lim Kit Siang have been denied entry to the state assembly, although they have invitations. They are now heading to the Sg Senang police station, where those arrested have been sent.

9.10 am Koay Teng Guan, the assemblyman for Sungai Pinang also arrested. Lim Kit Siang complains about the circus-like situation as a “national disgrace”. Said PKR strategic affiars director Tian Chua: “It looks like Najib is launching a police state even before his 100 days honeymoon ends.”

9.00 am Another one bites the dust! The personal aide to Ipoh Barat MP M Kulasegaran was arrested for refusing to leave assembly building. About a dozen people have been arrested this morning itself including Ampang MP, Teratai ADUN and Ayer Keroh ADUN.

8.50 am DAP’s Teratai assemblywoman Jenice Lee and another five or six more supporters in black have been arrested. Police are allowing only those with passes to enter the assembly building. Meanwhile, the crowd at the Ipoh Padang has dispersed and people are beginning to make their way over to the Perak Darul Ridwan Building.

8.45 am Pakatan Menteri Besar Nizar Jamaluddin is already here and going through the security procedures.

8.42 am Another arrest and the first MP to be taken in today - Zuraidah Kamaruddin, the MP for Ampang - for making a statement outside the state secretariat building. She and Tian Chua were trying to gain access into the building.

8.25 am Police have arrested five or six of the supporters. Koo Puay Tiong, the assemblyman for Ayer Keroh, was among those arrested for having allegedly crossed the 500 metres ban. Perak police obtained a court order on Wednesday prohibiting un-authorised people from coming within 500 metres of the fence of Perak Darul Ridwan Building.

8.20 am Back at the state secretariat complex, police are moving in on a group of about 20 to 30 protesters clad in black. They are also carrying posters of the Agong and banners and seem to be quite close to the state secretariat building.

8.15 am People have begun milling at the Ipoh Padang nearby. FRU and police personnel closely watching them. Some are eating their breakfast and the mood at this point is quite relaxed, even festive, with a lot of chatting and handshaking.

8.05 am Supporters wearing black arm-bands and t-shirts have been spotted. Presumably, these are Pakatan Rakyat supporters, but today is a day when anything can happen! Party leaders have already warned of the high possibility of agents provocateurs sent by their arch rivals Umno-BN to create friction.

8.00 am All roads leading to the main gate of the building from Jalan Kuala Kangsar, Jalan Silibin, Jalan Lahat and Jalan Hospital have been temporarily closed, causing traffic congestion in busy parts of the town. Roadblocks were set up at many places since last night and as early as 7 am this morning, police began cordoning off roads within 500m of the Perak Darul Ridwan.

7.50 am GOOD MORNING! May 7, Black Thursday is here. Both Pakatan Rakyat Menteri Besar Nizar Jamaluddin and Umno’s Zambry will lead their teams to the Perak Darul Ridwan Building soon.

All eyes will also be on V Sivakumar, who as Speaker has in his hand an array of powerful discretions.

The question is, will he be allowed to use them or will he be foiled as Umno uses Might in the form of the police and state secretariat staff to overcome Right at this crucial sitting.

Four motions, all initiated by Zambry, are due to be tabled this morning, including the removal of Sivakumar as Speaker. If Zambry succeeds in putting a new Umno-friendly Speaker, it is possible that he may try to table more resolutions in the form of emergency motions.

The other three motions that have been proposed are the election of new members for the Public Accounts Committee, Standing Orders Committee and Special Privileges Committee.

Sivakumar has stressed that he was never informed of all four motions until the notices were already issued, possibly by his recalcitrant secretary, Abdullah Antong Sabri.

The Regent of Perak Nazrin Shah will officiate at the re-convening of the assembly which adjourned sine die on Nov 13. The sitting will begin at 10 am.

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