By Clara Chooi
The sitting was peaceful at the start as state assemblymen took their respective seats with ousted speaker V. Sivakumar filling the Tronoh rep seat.
Just before Ganesan opened the floor for the question and answer session, Nga Kor Ming (DAP-Pantai Remis) stood to raise a point of order.
Ganesan at first ignored Nga but later relented when former Perak mentri besar Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin told him to respect the proper procedures of the House and allow for assemblymen to raise points of order.
He raised eyebrows further when he referred to Ganesan as an emcee, saying “Eh, emcee should listen.”
Evading the snide remark, Ganesan allowed Nga speak.
Nga invoked Standing Orders 3, 4 and 6, questioning the legitimacy of Ganesan’s appointment as the rightful Speaker of the House.
“Standing Orders 3 states that only when there is a vacancy in the Speaker’s chair, a new one can be elected. Standing Orders 4 states that if an election of the Speaker is to be conducted, a motion must be put forward with a seven days notice given to the House.
“The voting has to be done via ‘written votes’ meaning that the assemblymen must write the name of the Speaker that they want. Standing Orders 6 stipulates that only if the original Speaker no longer seats in his post, can the assembly hall be allowed to choose a replacement.
“I would like to record to this House that at no time had Sivakumar vacated his seat,” he said.
Nga pointed out that as such, Ganesan was not the legally appointed Speaker of the House, adding that the last appointment of the Speaker was done in 2008 under the PR government’s rule.
“Therefore Ganesan, you are not the legal Speaker of the House,” he said.
His words clearly affected Ganesan and the former Sungkai assemblyman interrupted Nga, telling him to sit down.
“YB Pantai Remis, sit down. The appointment of the Speaker was done on May 7 following the proper Standing Orders of the dewan. Sit down,” he said.
His words were drowned out by loud shouts from the floor as PR representatives stood, holding up the Standing Orders booklet and printed signs with the words “The World is Watching”, “Penyamun” and “Pencuri”.
The shouting continued for a good ten minutes but Ganesan chose to ignore the PR lawmakers, and continued to call Question Time to order.
“Do not disturb the proceedings of the House. Sit down!” he yelled, above the din.
The angry PR assemblymen continued to raise loud objections however, urging Ganesan to follow the rules of the House and allow the point of order to be voted on.
“Respect the law!,” they yelled.
Ganesan however continued to ignore them and called on former Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamad Tajol Rosli Ghazali to ask the first question of the day.
The House proceeded amid the loud shouts and chaos from the opposition bench with Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abd Kadir standing to answer Tajol Rosli, who had asked the BN government to explain its plans in the 10th Malaysia Plan.
Zambry’s answer could however barely be heard above the din caused by the PR assemblymen, who continued to accuse Ganesan of disrespecting the Standing Orders of the House.
“Listen first! Listen first! Listen to our interjection first! Respect the laws of the House, do not put this House to shame! Listen!” said Nga, yelling at the top of his lungs.
Despite their endless objections however, Ganesan refused to relent and urged for the BN government to proceed with Question Time. The microphones at the opposition bench were switched off.
When Ganesan called on Tai Sing Ng (PKR-Kuala Sapetang) to take his turn and raise the third question of the day to the BN government, the former state executive councillor stood up and instead of raising his question, he gave way to Nga to raise the point of order.
Speaking slowly into the microphone which was turned on to record his question, Tai did not refer to Ganesan as “Yang Di Pertua” (Speaker) as according to common rules of the House but called him “Datuk R. Ganesan”.
Angry that Tai had refused to raise his question, Ganesan told Kubu Gajah assemblyman Datuk Seri Raja Ahmad Zainuddin Raja Omar to raise the fourth question of the day.
Ganesan, who had to shout into his microphone to allow himself to be heard above the shouting, refused to acknowledge the protests coming from the opposition bench.
“The Speaker’s decision is final! Sit! Sit!” he shouted, when at least 10 PR representatives stood up, all shouting at the same time.
Shortly after that, another PR assemblyman was given a chance to raise his question but chose to give way to Nga, yet again, to raise his point of order.
Yee Seu Kai (
“A point of order raised must be acknowledged by the House,” he said.
Ganesan ignored him.
At several junctures throughout the chaotic proceeding, PR assemblymen walked up to the Speaker’s dais, holding up their printed signs.
Nizar was the first to do so, followed by Thomas Su (DAP-Pasir Pinji) who was held back by the group of sergeant-at-arms standing in front of the Speaker’s seat.
At one point, an angry Tajol Rosli’s voice was heard above the din as he urged Ganesan to expel Leong Mee Meng (DAP-Jalong) from the House after she flashed a sign containing a picture of Umno’s party logo, morphing into three frogs.
“Do not use the logo of Umno in the august House. Do not use that picture. Speaker, I urge you to expel her from this chamber. Expel her,” yelled Tajol Rosli.
Leong, seated directly across from Tajol Rosli, merely smiled.
At 10.55am, Ganesan declared that Question Time had concluded, raising more objection from the opposition bench.
At this juncture, Sivakumar stood up, attempting to move a motion seeking to include a debate of thanks on the royal address in the assembly’s agenda.
As his microphone was switched off however, his words were barely audible.
PR assemblymen began standing up again, shouting, as the House erupted, once again, into pandemonium.
Nizar shouted that the opposition wanted at least five days to debate the royal address but like the shouts of the rest of his comrades, his request was ignored.
Fed-up, Nizar stood up with his laptop bag and walked over to where Zambry was sitting, attempting to strike up a conversation with the latter. He is emulated by a number of other PR representatives, who began strolling around the chamber.
Perak DAP chief Datuk Ngeh Koo Ham walked up to stand before Ganesan, shouting.
Again, the PR representatives were ignored. As Nizar slowly walked out of the House, shrugging and shaking his head at the BN lawmakers as he did so, the other PR representatives followed suit.
Tai walked up to the Speaker but was pushed back by the sergeant-at-arms, nearly triggering a scuffle in the middle of the chamber.
Ngeh, coming to his rescue, began shouting at Ganesan and Zambry, as he held the sergeant-at-arms back.
Finally, all PR assemblymen staged a walkout and proceeded to the library of the State Secretariat building to hold a media conference.
The proceedings of the House resumed without the opposition bench. Ironically, shortly after the PR representatives left, Zambry tabled a motion calling for an amendment to the agenda of the day to include a debate of thanks to the royal address. The motion was passed.