PUTRAJAYA, Feb 9 — The Federal Court today agreed with the Court of Appeal and ruled that Barisan Nasional’s Datuk Seri Zambry Abd Kadir is the lawful Mentri Besar of Perak. This snuffs out the last hope of his toppled political rival and predecessor Datuk Seri Nizar Jamaluddin to be reinstated to the position.
The five-man panel of judges comprised Court of Appeal president Tan Sri Alauddin Mohd Sheriff, Chief Judge of Malaya Tan Sri Arifin Zakaria and Justices Datuk Zulkefli Ahmad Makinuddin, Datuk Mohd Ghazali Mohd Yusoff, and Datuk Abdull Hamid Embong.
The judgement was read out in court by Tan Sri Arifin Zakaria. “There is no requirement in the State Constitution which requires a vote of no confidence to be taken in the State Assembly. In the present case, there is no doubt that Zambry has the support of 31 of the 59 members of the state assembly,” said Tan Sri Arifin Zakaria.
Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail later told reporters, “It’s a very clear judgment with very, very sound reasonings. There’s no doubt about it. What has been done was to reaffirm the court’s decision,” referring to the Court of Appeal that “Datuk Zambry is the rightful Mentri Besar.”
“What the judges said is that anyone who has the majority can be appointed Mentri Besar but must prove it,” added Abdul Gani, who was present when the judgement was read out.
Zambry’s counsel Datuk Cecil Abraham also noted all parties are bound by the apex court’s ruling.
“This decision is binding on the state government and the Federal government,” he told reporters.
Nizar, 53, had challenged Zambry’s appointment and won at the High Court, which noted that there was a loophole in the Perak Constitution to allow for another to be sworn in as mentri besar (MB) when the incumbent had not resigned.
In his decision on May 9 last year, High Court judge Abdul Aziz Rahim ruled that the Sultan was not constitutionally empowered to sack the MB, and that Nizar had always been the lawful head of the state government.
The judge added that the only way for the MB to be dismissed when he refused to resign was through a vote of no-confidence by his peers inside the state legislative assembly.
But the decision was overturned by the Court of Appeal later that month. The appeals court said the High Court judge’s reading of the law was wrong and the latter had confused the issue of how the MB had lost the majority confidence with whether the ruler had the power to dismiss the head of government.
Nizar who is the PAS assemblyman for Pasir Panjang was chosen to head the state executive council (exco) after his Islamist party won the groundbreaking March 2008 general elections and formed an alliance with two other federal opposition groups, the secular DAP and popular pro-reform party PKR.
He was ousted 11 months later when four Pakatan Rakyat (PR) assemblymen left the fledgling alliance to swear loyalty to BN.
Bota assemblyman Datuk Nasharuddin Hashim who had earlier crossed from Umno to PKR, rejoined his old party. The assemblymen for Behrang, Jamaluddin Mohd. Radzi; Changkat Jering Osman Jailu; and Jelapang, Hee Yit Foong declared themselves as Independents friendly to the BN.
Their defections meant PR only had the support of 28 representatives in the 59-seat state assembly while the BN had 28 members plus the support of the three Independents.
The Election Commission refused to accept the three resignation letters forwarded by the pro-PR state assembly speaker which would have barred the votes of Jamaluddin, Osman and Hee from being counted.
Nizar was granted an audience with the Sultan of Perak but failed to convince the ruler to dissolve the assembly and pave the way for state-wide elections, ending what he saw as a political impasse.
Instead, the Perak sultan ordered him to resign and subsequently appointed Zambry as Nizar’s replacement.
Zambry is the lawful MB, Federal Court agrees