Speaker must hire government lawyer: Malaysian court

IPOH - A high court has told an ethnic Indian presiding officer that he is ‘part of the government’ and hence cannot engage private lawyers to defend himself.

He must rely on the services of the state legal adviser, the high court Wednesday said in its first-ever ruling against Perak state Assembly Speaker V. Sivakumar.

Sivakumar had last month suspended the chief minister and the entire cabinet from attending the house and has been battling the government citing ‘unlimited powers’ given to his office under the state assembly rules.

There has been a constitutional impasse since the change of government in the state. The previous government lost majority due to defections. But Sivakumar, who was elected when the house was formed in March last year, does not recognise the change.

Judicial Commissioner Ridwan Ibrahim heard arguments from lawyers of the ruling United Malays National Organisation and the Assistant State Legal Adviser Zulqarnain Hassan.

Reporting the court proceedings, New Straits Times said though Hassan was supposed to be representing Sivakumar, he refused to speak to him when called by the latter, both outside and inside the court.

‘You represent me. You should talk to me,’ Sivakumar told him.

Sivakumar has said he would appeal against the ruling before a higher court.

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