Tuesday, February 24, 2009

UMNO turns to the British for help on Perak crisis

KUALA LUMPUR – An Umno lawyer is understood to have been instructed by the Barisan Nasional (BN) party to seek advice from a Queen’s Counsel in London in an effort to break the constitutional impasse in Perak. [The Malaysian Insider, 22/2/09]

The petulance of Malaysian politics has taken another twist. This time, it is reported that UMNO has instructed one of it's lawyers to head thousands of miles across the eight time zones to London, with hope of finding a solution to the constitutional crisis already brewing in Perak.

The political cul de sac in Perak started off with the formation of a new state government, spearheaded by the Barisan Nasional (BN), through undemocratic means. The previous administration was led by (now former) Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin of PAS. Many have called the dissolution of the Pakatan Rakyat-led state government as unconstitutional and undemocratic but cries of justice have gone fallen on deaf ears. Interestingly, in a recent SMS poll organised by a local television channel, 79% of its participants agree that fresh elections should be held in Perak.

However, the Perak State Assembly is technically, still in the hands of the Pakatan Rakyat. On February 18, Perak state legislative assembly speaker V. Sivakumar (of DAP) suspended the newly appointed Chief Minister Datuk Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir (image) and his executive council members from attending the state legislative assembly. Sivakumar ruled that Zambry and the six new executive councillors were in contempt of the assembly due to their undemocratic appointment into power.

And now, UMNO is turning to our former colonial masters for legal advice to break the deadlock; with the intention to legitimise the establishment of the new Perak state government. The party have instructed one of its lawyers to meet a representative of the Queen's Counsel (QC) in London.

The QC or known as the King's Counsel during the reign of a male monarch, are lawyers appointed by letter patents to be one of "Her [or His] Majesty's Counsel learned in the law". Members have the privilege of sitting within the Bar of court.

But the questions is: Why the need to go all the way to London to seek legal advice when we have our very own Malaysian Bar Council who can do the job? Isn't this a waste of resources?

Well, the reason is clear. The Malaysian Bar Council have already given its Pakatan-friendly verdict on the Perak constitutional dilemma. On February 19, the council's president, Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan said snap elections in the state were the best solution to democratically decide the legitimacy of the new state government.

"Going back to the people of Perak will. We urge the parties involved to seriously consider doing so, not only in the interest of the people of Perak but also in the interest of stability and the nation as a whole," she said in a press statement. [The Nut Graph, 19/2/09]
Would the Queen's Counsel in London draw the same conclusion as the Malaysian Bar Council? Only time would tell. But if they don't, Robert Mugabe's counsel of lawyers might just be next on UMNO's list. Only then, would they get an answer they want.