Thursday, July 23, 2009

Speaker vs Speaker: Battle goes before House committee

Perak Pakatan Rakyat state assembly speaker V Sivakumar has issued a notice to his counterpart from Barisan Nasional to appear before the powerful Committee of Powers and Privileges.

The notice was sent to R Ganesan today, asking him to appear before the committee on July 27 to address complaints that he had breached the rules of the House by assuming the post of the speaker on May 7.

In the notice Sivakumar stated that main reason for calling Ganesan before the committee was due to Ganesan's decision to invite the police into the assembly during the sitting on May 7.

Sivakumar was deposed as the speaker at that May 7 sitting and replaced by Ganesan who had then asked the police to remove Sivakumar from the assembly.

"No civilized country which practises the rule of law can condone such a barbaric act.

"Ganesan's instructions to the police is both a criminal act and a disgrace to those who collaborated with him to usurp the functions and role of the speaker in the House," said Sivakumar in the notice.

Sivakumar, who still asserts that he is speaker of the assembly - and thus the chairperson of the committee- has ordered Ganesan to appear before the committee on grounds that:

•Ganesan had no right to be in the assembly when it convened on May 7,

•Hee Yit Foong (Jelapang assemblyperson) had no right to preside over any sitting to elect a new speaker when Sivakumar was still in the chair,

•(BN Perak Menteri Besar) Zambry (Abdul Kadir) tried to move a resolution to remove Sivakumar, and

•No other motion was moved and neither was any business transacted by the sitting on May 7 except the royal address.
Ganesan: 'I am not agitated'

In an immediate reaction Ganesan however said he had no intention of attending the meeting before Sivakumar.

The BN man said he was the speaker of the assembly and questioned Sivakumar's right to issue the notice to him.

He said that Sivakumar can do as he wished but the fact remained that the majority of the assembly had voted for him to be the new speaker.

"I am at the speaker's office in the state secretariat and I am discharging my duties as a speaker.

"He cannot call for an inquiry on me. He no longer has the powers to do so," he said.

Asked of his reaction to the notice, Ganesan simply said: "Why should I react, I am the legal speaker. I am not agitated or anything over this".

"I don't just sit down there as a speaker but I go around and help the public," he added.

The notice was sent to Ganesan based on a complaint made by Aulong DAP assembly representative Yee Seu Kai.

When contacted, Sivakumar, insisted that Ganesan was not the speaker and reiterated that he will be waiting at the state secretariat building next Monday

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Pakatan: Royal commission is a mockery

Pakatan Rakyat today said that there were many questions that needed urgent answers to the circumstances leading to the death of political aide Teoh Beng Hock while being questioned by the Malaysia Anti-Corruption Commission last week.

As such, the opposition coalition said, the government was wrong in limiting the terms of reference of the royal commission of inquiry to look only into the MACC's investigative procedures.

The royal commission, as announced by Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak yesterday, will also be tasked to determine if there were any human right violations when Teoh was being interrogated.

Pakatan Rakyat leader however believed that the royal commission must also look into the cause of Teoh's death.

Najib announced yesterday that the cause of the death will be determined by an inquest.

"This makes a mockery of the public outcry for justice, truth and accountability," said Pakatan leader in a joint statement today.

The statement was signed by PKR vice-president R Sivarasa, PAS council member Dzulkefly Ahmad and Selangor DAP secretary Lau Weng San.

Also present was PAS treasurer and Kuala Krai MP Dr Hatta Ramli.

They said that some of the questions that needed to be answered were:

•why was Teoh's case allegedly involving an amount less than RM2,500 is pursued with such aggression and urgency?
•why was Teoh and another so-called "witness" kept overnight and interrogated with such oppression?
•why was Teoh's hand phone in the custody of the MACC when the MACC insisted that he was only a witness; why did the MACC initially deny they took his handphone?
•why would Teoh spend the night at the MACC's office if he was free to go especially since he was scheduled to be married the next morning;
•why would Teoh commit suicide (as alleged by MACC and others) in these circumstances, when he is about to get married, with his fiancĂ© expecting their child, and with no sign or history of depression or mental illness.
"Hence, whilst it is appropriate that the royal commission investigate the procedures of investigation of the MACC, the key question of how Teoh died must also be investigated and answered by them.

"That question cannot be separated from the more general issue of how the MACC conducts investigations," said the Pakatan leaders in their statement.

Ridiculous questions from police

Sivarasa also said that having an inquest, which is presided by a magistrate would not achieve the true objective of finding Teoh's cause of death.

"In an inquest, police will give the evidence that it has gathered and the DPP assisting the coroner in the inquest would direct questions. There are limited roles played by other parties and this results in numerous inquests ending up without determining the cause of death," Sivarasa (left) said.

"Furthermore, the public has questioned the integrity of the police, judiciary and the prosecution in the past. Hence, we strongly feel that an inquest is insufficient. Expanding the terms of reference of the royal commission to determine the cause of death would be seen to be independent," he said.

Sivarasa also questioned the relevance of the police line of interrogation to determine the cause of Teoh's death when they met an aide to Selangor executive councillor Elizabeth Wong.

"They asked questions as to whether Teoh was a smoker, or has he got political enemies, does he owe a lot of money. Such questions posed by the authorities when recording statements would not help determine the cause of death.

"They should be looking at whether there were other finger prints on the windows, or whether there were a third party's hair or other subtances on from Teoh's shirt which could be sent for DNA analysis. If this was the line of questioning, I do not think the inquest would achieve its desired objective"

Selective prosecution adopted

Selangor DAP organising secretary Lau Weng San also questioned the selective prosecution adopted by MACC in supposedly taking action on Pakatan Rakyat elected representatives.

"I lodged a report to the MACC a couple of months ago regarding a BN elected representative finishing his allocation of RM500,000 within two months. But no action has been taken on it," Lau, who is Kampung Tunku assemblyperson said.

A big poser, he said, is how could a witness, not an accused person, die while in MACC's custody.

These, Lau said are the questions which MACC should answer as it happened on their premises.

"Hence, DAP along with Pakatan partners truly feel that we need a water-tight royal commission to not only answer questions on MACC's investigative procedures but also determine the cause of death."

"Having a junior magistrate presiding in an inquest is insufficient as it would not be able to determine the circcumstances surrounding Teoh's death."

People of integrity to be in commission

Dzulkefly, who also supports the expansion in the role of the commission, asked that people of high-integrity be appointed in the royal commission.

"The royal commission must include people who have a high standing and be non-partisan.

"This is to ensure that there is transparency in the commission to seek the truth ," said Dzulkefly, who is also Kuala Selangor MP said.

He also questioned the setting-up of the inquest and asked what would happen if there are two separate findings, one from the inquest and one from the royal commission.

He wanted to know how would the discrepancy be addressed if there was one.

"Surely, by having one royal commission not only to assess the investigative procedures but also the circumstances surrounding Teoh's death would resolve this dilemma," said Dzulkefly

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