Friday, March 19, 2010

Same group to stand as sergeant-at-arms in Perak assembly

The mammoth team of over 20 sergeant-at-arms appointed to assist Perak Speaker Datuk R. Ganesan in the last state assembly sitting will likely assume their posts again this March 30.

“They are there to assist me. It is the Speaker’s prerogative to hire as many of them as he wants. If I feel I need 100, I will hire 100. If I need 10, I will hire 10,” Ganesan told The Malaysian Insider today.

During the last sitting on Oct 28 last year, the group of 22 sergeant-at-arms had formed a human wall in front of the Speaker’s chair, in the latter’s bid to prevent the Opposition from removing him.

The Opposition had cried foul over this, accusing Ganesan of hiring “samsengs from Umno’s Pekida” to protect his position.

Ganesan today confirmed that the same group is still employed by the state assembly and still remained at his disposal if he felt he needed them.

In fact, the Barisan Nasional-appointed Speaker said that similar security measures would be employed in the coming sitting, much like the controversial Oct 28 one.

“We will take the necessary steps to ensure that the assembly runs in a respectful manner. It is my duty as the Speaker to safeguard the integrity of the dewan,” he said when contacted today.

In the last sitting, the BN government had been particularly careful in taking precautionary steps to prevent the Opposition from disrupting the sitting, which was a crucial one for the tabling of the state’s budget.

In an unprecedented move, members and invited guests in the hall were allowed inside at specific time slots, with the BN assemblymen and Ganesan himself taking the first slot. The media were subsequently allowed in, as well as the heads of state departments. The last group to be allowed into the heavily policed assembly hall, were the opposition lawmakers.

Ganesan said that this round, the strict security measures were in view of the legitimate expectation that Pakatan Rakyat lawmakers would enter the assembly hall with the same intention to create a ruckus.

“You can see from how they are behaving now, with (ousted Speaker) V. Sivakumar sending out notices of his own,” he said.

After Ganesan had sent out notices to all 59 assemblymen in Perak to inform them of the sitting, Sivakumar, claiming he is still the rightful Speaker, also sent similar notices of his own on March 8.

Two police reports — one by Ganesan, and one by Perak BN Backbenchers Club chairman Datuk Nadzri Ismail — have been lodged against Sivakumar since then.

“He is impersonating me, it is very obvious. They (PR) know the truth but they are choosing to ignore it. The High Court has already declared that my appointment was legal,” said Ganesan.

In September last year, the Ipoh High Court had struck out with costs, Sivakumar’s suit against Ganesan, ruling that it did not have jurisdiction to interfere with the decisions made in the May 7 assembly and pointing out that the former’s removal and the latter’s appointment had been fairly made.

Ganesan also said that for the time being, this assembly session, which will see the opening graced by the Perak Sultan, should last for a short two days.

“There is no need for it to be dragged on. We start with the opening, the Sultan’s royal address and then the other parts of the order of the day like the question and answer session and the debate of thanks for the royal address.

“For the time being, we believe two days is sufficient but we will decide to extend it if necessary,” he said.

Typically, the Perak state assembly assumes between three to five days. The Oct 28 sitting was however adjourned after a short one day, when the budget was successfully passed by BN backbenchers.

Ganesan admitted however that he had received all oral and written questions submitted from legislators of both sides of the political divide.

“They will be given their slot in the assembly, not to worry,” he said.

On the reason for the large team of sergeant-at-arms, Ganesan said that it was necessary as the group would be tasked to assist him in ensuring the assembly ran smoothly.

“Look at what happened on the May 7 sitting. The opposition attacked one single sergeant-at-arms and he was injured in the process. We cannot take that risk again,” he said.

Ganesan also warned all assemblymen against any unruly behaviour in the House, pointing out that he had the power to invoke any relevant provision in the Standing Orders to bring them to book.

courtesy of Malaysian Insider

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