A political and constitutional crisis that has crippled the Malaysian state of Perak for almost four months showed no sign of ending when an appeal court Friday ruled in favour of a government takeover of the state.
The judgement overturned the short-lived victory of the opposition, as the High Court had just ruled earlier in the month that opposition Chief Minister Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin of the northern state of Perak was unfairly ousted from his position.
Perak was one of five states won by the opposition People's Alliance during last year's March general elections.
The Kuala Lumpur High Court ruling had been a clear rejection of the controversial takeover orchestrated by Prime Minister Najib Razak, who used the defections of three previously opposition lawmakers to spark the power grab.
However, the Court of Appeal on Friday overturned the ruling, thus reinstating the Barisan Nasional-elected chief minister in Perak, Zambry Abdul Kadir, as lawful state leader.
The three-judge panel said it was clear that Chief Minister Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin of Perak no longer controlled a majority in the state parliament after the defections from his People's Alliance coalition
The Appeals Court said the sultan was not obliged to call for a confidence vote for Mohammad Nizar. It also said the sultan was right in not agreeing to dissolve the parliament.
A key issue thrown up by this issue is the delimitation of the boundaries of the constitutional monarch’s executive power to dismiss elected officials. The Sultan of Perak’s decision to dismiss Nizar without a vote of confidence in the Perak state legislature has been validated by the Court of Appeal’s ruling, and will carry implications for the other sultans of Malaysia; Malaysia’s system of parliamentary democracy has been weakened by this extension of power of the sultans over the institution of the elected state assembly.
It also seems unlikely that this latest ruling will resolve the political deadlock in Perak, which has come to symbolize the political struggle between the Barisan Nasional and the opposition alliance on the federal level, even as business and trade are being badly affected by the lack of a proper governing authority for the past four months. Opposition politicians are still calling for fresh elections.
'Najib cannot win in the court of public opinion,' said Lim Kit Siang, veteran leader of the opposition Democratic Action Party.
World Bulletin, Malaysia govt wins control of disputed Perak state , 22 May 2009, http://www.worldbulletin.net/news_detail.php?id=42186
Taiwan News, Court hands Malaysia ruling party control of state, 22 May 2009, http://www.etaiwannews.com/etn/news_content.php?id=956572〈=eng_news
Monsters & Critics, Malaysian state crisis deepens with court ruling against opposition, 22 May 2009,http://www.monstersandcritics.com/news/asiapacific/news/article_1478841....