By Jacqueline Ann Surin
PETALING JAYA, 11 May 2009: The Raja Muda of Perak, Raja Nazrin Shah, is empowered by the Perak constitution to decide on a request by the menteri besar to dissolve the state assembly.
Tommy Thomas Constitutional lawyer Tommy Thomas said that Article 15 under Part II of the state constitution stipulated that the regent could be the acting sovereign in the event that the sultan was away for more than 30 days.
"We can safely assume that Sultan Azlan Shah is away, and that Raja Nazrin Shah is acting sovereign when he (Raja Nazrin) opened the state assembly last Thursday (7 May)," Thomas said in a phone interview today.
Thomas served as legal counsel for embattled Speaker V Sivakumar in the suit brought against him by assemblypersons Jamaluddin Mohd Radzi (Behrang), Capt (R) Mohd Osman Jailu (Changkat Jering) and Hee Yit Foong (Jelapang).
Thomas added that under Article 17 of the constitution, the regent, when acting as the sovereign, is empowered to exercise all the prerogatives and perform all the duties of the sovereign.
"This means that Raja Nazrin Shah can make the decision about dissolving the state assembly as provided under Article 36(2) of the Perak state constitution," he said.
Earlier today, the High Court ruled that Pakatan Rakyat's Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin was the rightful menteri besar of Perak, providing some relief to more than three months of uncertainty as to who should head the state government.
A jubilant Nizar, who was in court today, told reporters he would immediately return to Ipoh to seek an audience with Perak Ruler Sultan Azlan Shah for a dissolution of the state assembly.
However, it is believed that the sultan is currently overseas, and Nizar will probably seek an audience with the Raja Nazrin Shah tomorrow morning in Kuala Kangsar.
Raja Nazrin Shah Nizar was ousted after the Barisan Nasional (BN)'s Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir was sworn in as Perak menteri besar on 6 Feb following the BN takeover of the state government. The takeover was precipitated by the defection of three Pakatan Rakyat (PR) assemblypersons who opted to become BN-friendly independents, leading to the PR losing its majority in the state assembly.
Nizar had sought an audience with the sultan of Perak on 5 May to request the dissolution of the state assembly but was turned down and instead ordered to step down as MB.
On 13 Feb, Nizar, 52, filed an application to the court for a declaration that he was at all material times the menteri besar of Perak. He also sought a declaration that Zambry had no right to hold the office of menteri besar.Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has said that the BN will appeal against the High Court's decision.