Zambry defends strict Dewan procedures

By Clara Chooi (Malaysian Insider)

IPOH, March 30 — Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abd Kadir has come out to defend the strict measures taken to guard today’s state assembly sitting, claiming that it was necessary in view of the chaos during the previous sessions.
He, however, noted that the Pakatan Rakyat lawmakers behaved better today and said that they had not gone “overboard” in their protests.
“The proceedings went smoothly despite some attempts to disturb it… but we are used to those ways, which we consider to not be overboard [today],” he said in a press conference at his office, after the sitting was adjourned shortly before 11am.
Today’s inaugural sitting was at first expected to be just as chaotic as the previous Perak assembly sittings when PR assemblymen, despite having promised to work with the BN government, continued their protest against Barisan Nasional-appointed Speaker Datuk R. Ganesan.
After some minor arguments from the PR assemblymen today however, the sitting proceeded as planned, with the royal address from the Perak Regent Raja Dr Nazrin Shah.
Ousted Speaker V. Sivakumar did not appear in the chamber in the Speaker’s robes and instead wore the ceremonial uniform for the state assemblymen. He also took his seat as the Tronoh assemblymen.
“They tried to disturb at first but they know the rakyat is watching their behaviour. Some of them were seen advising their friends not to react wildly. They know the rakyat is watching and they have promised to be a good opposition,” said Zambry.
[Pakatan’s Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin (centre) with ousted Speaker V. Sivakumar (left). — Picture by Choo Choy May]
Pakatan’s Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin (centre) with ousted Speaker V. Sivakumar (left). — Picture by Choo Choy May
After the Federal Court decided on Feb 9 that Zambry was the state’s rightful mentri besar instead of PR’s Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin, the opposition lawmakers had promised to play nice with the BN and play the role of a strong opposition.
Zambry also defended why the PR and BN assemblymen were made to enter the chamber via different entrances, saying that it did not have to be done if the opposition had behaved in the previous assemblies.
“This is not the first time the speaker instructed to use two different entrances but at the time, they never raised this issue. They will keep saying oh how disrespectful the BN is, how undemocratic.
“They said only the PR assemblymen were checked but everyone was checked. If they behaved before, then there would not be any need for three or four rooms to enter the hall. The problem, as you know, is that we have to take precautions because I do not think anyone really knows what happened before,” he said.
Zambry also laughed at how the opposition backbenchers had accused the BN government of stationing the policemen in the chambers one floor above the hall before Raja Dr Nazrin walked into the chamber to deliver his royal address.
The media personnel were made to observe the assembly proceedings from that hall, unlike the previous sittings when they were allowed into the chamber itself.
During the arguments, the speaker in the media gallery was not turned on, blotting out the sound of the proceedings.
“They (PR) said — get out, all those policemen. They accused that there were many policemen sitting upstairs but it was actually you (media). You (media) are considered the police. (Perak DAP chief Datuk) Ngeh (Koo Ham) was even shouting,” said Zambry.
He explained that the reason why the media were told to observe the proceedings from the gallery instead of being directly present in the hall was because of the number of pressmen who were in attendance.
“There were many press people. I do not want to discriminate some parties because I know some would be unhappy about it,” he said.
Zambry also explained that at one juncture, Sivakumar was encouraged to grab the Speaker’s chair.
“Ganesan went off to fetch the Tuanku. And then they said — Ah, the Speaker’s chair is empty. They told Sivakumar to take it,” he said.
Despite the minor disturbances in today’s sitting, Zambry expressed confidence that the PR assemblymen would observe decorum in tomorrow’s session, scheduled to commence at 10 am.
“Well I think they have to behave. We don’t want to fight, we want to be well behaved and behave as normal,” he said.
He added however that if the PR assemblymen failed to behave, the Speaker could recognise his powers to punish them accordingly.
“But they promised rakyat they would not create a situation so I come back to that,” he said.