Ganesan vows fair play for Pakatan

By Clara Chooi (Malaysian Insider)
IPOH, March 30 — Perak Speaker Datuk R. Ganesan (picture) was happy with today’s assembly proceedings and has promised to play fair with the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) assemblymen tomorrow.
The two-day state assembly was opened by Perak Regent Raja Dr Nazrin Shah without the ruckus that has marred previous sittings after the PR government fell in Feb 2009.
“I’m not upset with the sitting today. I’m quite happy but I expect them to behave tomorrow. I hope they will abide with standing orders of the House.
“I’m ready to face any ruckus but I do not think it will be like (the) May 7 (sitting). Anyway, I am quite immune to it,” Ganesan told a press conference after today’s session.
The Barisan Nasional-appointed speaker said he had no plans to stop the PR lawmakers from raising their arguments during tomorrow’s session, which has been scheduled to assume at 10 am.
“As a Speaker, I will be fair to them. They will get their chance,” he said.
Despite this however, the PR lawmakers are expecting that Ganesan will not offer equal opportunity to the opposition bench when the sitting resumes at 10 am tomorrow.
Former speaker V. Sivakumar even said that the debates in the chamber tomorrow would likely be very “hot” and said that the opposition bench still had a “strategy” planned on how to handle the proceedings.
His hint undermines all assumption that tomorrow’s sitting will proceed as smoothly as today’s session.
Sivakumar, who did not appear in the hall today garbed in the speaker’s robes as he did before and sat calmly in his Tronoh seat, also did not discount the possibility of turning up as the speaker tomorrow.
“Who knows? You never know. You will have to wait and see tomorrow,” he told The Malaysian Insider with a laugh.
He said that the reason why the opposition was sure that tomorrow’s session would not be fair towards them was because Ganesan had already rejected both oral and written questions from 20 assemblymen.
“We already know that the questions would not be addressed. He claims that the assemblymen had to email the questions to him and that since we did not do that, he would reject them,” said Sivakumar.
According to Sivakumar, 27 of the 28 PR assemblymen, excluding himself, had submitted their questions to the office of the state assembly secretary on March 15.
The questions, he said, were first sent to him and he subsequently forwarded the hard copies to the state assembly secretary, who acknowledged receipt.
“Seven of our assemblymen also sent it to the secretary’s office via email,” he said.
He argued that the assembly’s Standing Order 22(2) states that the questions had to be submitted to the state assembly secretary’s office and did not specify that they had to be emailed.
“There is no reason for them not to answer our questions. We have followed the law and we want them to answer all the questions. If they fail to do so…. the debates will be very hot,” he said.
Meanwhile, Ganesan insisted that he was not obliged to accept the questions from the 20 PR assemblymen who failed to email them.
“My notice stated specifically that they should email the questions,” he said.
He noted that tomorrow’s assembly session would proceed according to the agenda of the day, which includes the question and answer session as well as the debate of thanks to the royal address.
“We also do not know for certain if the sitting will end tomorrow. It depends on the situation,” he said.
Typically, the Perak state assembly sitting continues for between three to five days.
Ganesan had earlier said that this session, the first after the Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abd Kadir was officially declared by the Federal Court as the rightful mentri besar, will only run for two days.
This has irked opposition assemblymen who are now asking for a five full days of assembly.
Today’s assembly session proceeded without much fanfare despite some minor arguments from the opposition bench, who lambasted the BN government for taking such strict procedures to guard the hall.