Hornbill Unleashed

May 8, 2009

A Coup d’État in Perak

By Pak Bui @ hueditor@gmail.com

American hawk Edward Luttwak wrote in Coup d’État: a Practical Handbook, that “a coup consists of the infiltration of a small, but critical, segment of the state apparatus, which is then used to displace the government from its control over the remainder.”

sivatheheroThis is what took place on Black Thursday, May 7, in Ipoh. The State Assembly Speaker, V Sivakumar, was removed forcibly from his seat and dragged out of the State Assembly. A new Speaker, R Ganesan, was installed by the BN State representatives. The scuffle caused damage to the speaker’s chair, and great offence to the dignity of the Perak State Assembly.

The men who carried off Sivakumar wore name-tags printed with the word “Official”. They did not identify themselves as policemen, but there was little doubt these were plainclothes policemen. In fact, the police have no jurisdiction in any State Assembly or Parliament.

Separation of powers ignored

Article 72 (1) in the Federal Constitution states clearly that “The validity of any proceedings in any Legislative Assembly of any State shall not be questioned in any court”.

This applies also to the other branch of government, the Executive. The Legislative Assemblies are independent of the Executive and the Home Ministry. The State Assembly Speaker arranges all security for the Assembly. Legislators at a sitting in the state Assembly are, therefore, not subject to the actions of the police.

Policemen were bound by the Constitution to request permission from the Speaker V Sivakumar, before entering the State Assembly. Perhaps they whispered politely in his ear while they were dragging him away.

The policemen who bundled Sivakumar away, and their political masters, remind us all of school bullies. Having been soundly defeated, and infuriated, they snatch up the ball, proclaim themselves the winners, and rain their fists on all the other players.

Arbitrary arrests galore

Outside the Perak State Assembly, the police arrested more than 40 people, including Pakatan Rakyat legislators, bystanders, and people drinking tea and eating breakfast at a mamak stall. One man scolded the police for interrupting his breakfast, at a coffee shop near the Assembly building. He was allowed to finish his breakfast, and was then arrested. Perhaps he was eating heroin and drinking ganja tea.

f8b71f65a53913b22c8ad43cf2b3d126It appears that criminal activity includes eating at a mamak stall or coffee shop within 500 metres of the State Assembly, and can be punished severely by the police. In Kuching, beware of eating at the stalls along Jalan Astana in Petra Jaya, or along the Main Bazaar, in case you are hauled off to the police station.

One Pakatan Rakyat MP, Zuraida Kamaruddin, in a sombre black tudung, was arrested as she prepared to give a press conference outside the State Assembly Building. Perhaps the police had information she was about to proclaim an Independent Republic of Men in Black.

The police slapped handcuffs on her. Presumably the elected Member of Parliament from Ampang was considered likely to pose a clear and present danger of physical harm to the 100 police personnel outside the front entrance to the State Assembly, and the back-up of five FRU trucks at the rear entrance.

Extreme Fashion Mistakes

chinfattWe must warn our children against wearing black in public. Wong Chin Huat has won support and respect for his imaginative and satirical idea of “1Black Malaysia”, for which he has been jailed. It seems our noble men in blue have been designated the Fashion Police, and are empowered to haul away people in black into Black Marias.

That may, indeed, be the real reason the Speaker Sivakumar was forced out of the State Assembly, his black Speaker’s Robes may have annoyed the Fashion Police, while the State Assembly reps were dressed in white. Ganesan’s robes, on the other hand, did not seem black enough to offend.

Policemen must have the professional judgment to arrest those wearing clothes that are black enough to pose a threat to public security. Black hair remains a grey area, but more distinguished people with grey or white hair, may appear less likely to conduct violent insurrection.

Humiliation for BN in the State Assembly

Inside the Assembly building, there was humiliation for the newly installed speaker Ganesan. He did not know the Standing Orders well enough to handle proceedings, and the Pakatan representatives laughed out loud at him. Since the BN had announced his elevation to Speaker long before their putsch, it must be assumed that he did not have the time, or intellectual capacity, to have read through the Standing Orders beforehand.

There was also public humiliation for Hee Yit Foong, the much-derided Deputy Speaker, and the butt of many jokes. Pakatan Rakyat Representatives threw money at her, including a fifty-ringgit note and one-ringgit notes. It was pointed out that she tore up the one-ringgit notes melodramatically and angrily, but it was unclear what she did with the fifty-ringgit note.

One Pakatan Rakyat State Assemblyman, Yew Tian Hoe, said Hee had sprayed him with pepper spray. It appears obvious she will need much more than pepper spray to defend her honour. Her name is destined to become a term of abuse, much as “Quisling” entered the English language to mean traitor, after the name of the despised Norwegian turncoat Vidkun Quisling. Hee’s name may yet find its way into common usage. Her name is likely to become synonymous with an expletive, because of the widespread tendency on the Internet, to combine her name with foul language.

Hee stands as a reminder of the worst and cheapest aspects of our tawdry democracy. She is also a reminder to our political parties to select candidates wisely, candidates who truly represent the people. With time, the selection process for Pakatan Rakyat should improve, and debacles such as the resignation of Deputy Chief Minister Fairus Khairuddin, and the defection of Pakatan Rakyat reps in Perak will, we hope, one day be history.

We can work for a viable two-party system, and keep hoping it will emerge.

Looking forward to the next Perak elections

When Retired Justice NH Chan judged the judges presiding over the suit brought by new Perak MB Zambry against Sivakumar, he quoted Thomas Fuller: “Be you ever so high, the law is above you.”

Politicians in Perak must also be aware that they are subject to the people’s will. And it is almost certain the BN reps will feel the full wrath of Perak’s voters during the next election. The small tactical advantage gained by overthrowing Perak’s elected government is likely to increase the anger of voters nationwide, against such abuses of power, and lead to huge strategic losses for BN in the next election.

We voters in Sarawak, and our counterparts in Sabah, have seen these systematic abuses repeated over the years in our part of the country, too. Is it now time for us to join the groundswell of Malaysian voters demanding a cleaner government?

If we can impose a two-party system the police apparatus cannot again be used to drag down our elected governments, and deny us our democratic rights.

Be you ever so high, you can be brought down by the vote of the common man.


p/s: Hornbill Unleashed invites readers to email us at hueditor@gmail.com with leads and or other specific information on individuals involved in related to the above article so that we know more concretely about the matter. Thank You.



  1. I look forward to the day when Zambry is seen carrying his belongings into his car , and from the backdoor of the Dewan Rakyat………

    Comment by mik — April 16, 2013 @ 9:53 AM | Reply

  2. Why do we ended up these clowns and fools leading the country. Corruption, murders, missing people, missing $$,sucides….
    We need to get these fools out and we might need international helps to do it.

    Comment by GPM — October 29, 2011 @ 7:23 AM | Reply

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  8. Most of us express our sadness and disgust. So what? Nothing changed! Wake up Malaysian! do your part by explaining to the Rakyat that do not have access to the internet. I’m a believer in a 2 party system.For a better Malaysia.

    Comment by Oscar Whiskey — May 8, 2009 @ 6:42 PM | Reply

  9. Its a sensational scene! BN will taste the fruits next election.

    My salute to Mr Speaker Sivakumar and the Pakatan reps !

    Comment by jasmine — May 8, 2009 @ 6:15 PM | Reply

  10. Thank you MB Zambry and PM Najib for turning voters against BN. You’ve done BN a great disservice and made voters even more furious. Hooray for PM Najib! Hooray for MB Zambry!

    Comment by Pak Bui — May 8, 2009 @ 4:00 PM | Reply

  11. It is really a sad day! Everything is so obvious that there was indeed a conspiracy! The police, the state secretary, the sargeant-at-arms, the BN politicians, etc all conspire to evict Sivakumar!
    I feel ashamed being a Malaysian!

    The Sultan had made a controversial decision, but it is within his power to now dissolve the assembly and call for fresh state election!

    Comment by mark — May 8, 2009 @ 3:42 PM | Reply

  12. Violence begets violence, when the Rule of Law is no longer held in regard, the subsequent chaos endangers even those who chose to ignore it in the first place. Consider the following narrative from “A Man of All Seasons”

    William Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!
    Sir Thomas More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
    William Roper: Yes, I’d cut down every law in England to do that!
    Sir Thomas More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ’round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man’s laws, not God’s! And if you cut them down, and you’re just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake!

    Comment by desmond — May 8, 2009 @ 9:44 AM | Reply

    • Excellent, excellent quote, Desmond! One of the grms from that great play.

      My worry is that we shall not see elections in 2013. BN faces two choices: hold elections and go down to defeat, or provoke violence (at which they are very good) in order to “justify” the declaration of a Sate of Emergency, and so avoid elections.

      The only way to pre-empt this, is for some really incontrovertible evidence of gross immorality to surface that could sink Najib’s government in a vote of no confidence, because a number of Abdullah-leaning UMNO MPs would support PR. For example, an un-doctored photo of our merry submarine pirates carousing in some hotel with that poor Altantuya, may God rest her soul in peace. Then you might see the King, (who incidentally is quite a bit younger than his peers and used to hero-worship RPK when both were kids) take a brave decision. He does control the army after all. It is not by accident that the Malay Regiment was called out that day to stand by at Sungei Buloh, just as a reminder to the men-in-blue not to rough up the yellow sea of Bersih demonstrators excessively.

      Remember we are dealing with thugs. For a small very wealthy indeed elite, the control of a whole country’s resources is in play here. Up to now, total control of judiciary, police, contracts… has been maintained while ostensibly (more or less) respecting democratic rules. But the good times that put enough $$ into enough rakyat pockets to keep activism low, are ending. Many many people have become politicised and “want their country back”. This is now the end-game for BN barons. You think they will meekly accept the Rakyat’s electoral decision?? Thugs, I repeat. Do not be misled by the fact that they can afford expensive tailors. When a Minister’s private security detail can murder and blow to bits the body of a young woman (with special attention to the abdomen) because she had the misfortune to know too much and fall foul of a commission share-out dispute covering Euro 114 million, those who made such decisions are thugs. When a political leader of Anwar’s stature can be poisoned in jail with massive doses of arsenic such that he was saved in extremis only by God’s grace and a total blood transfusion, those who make such decisions are thugs.

      I greatly fear for the future of democratic Malaysia. This is not fanciful; look at what the markets are telling is. Rates on five year Malaysian govt dollar paper are about 3.85%. Equivalent rates on five year Thailand paper are about 2.5%. That’s troubling when you consider (1) that Malaysia enjoys an A- rating, while Thailand’s is BBB- (2) what has been going on politically recently in the Land of Smiles. markets are not in the business of making moral judgments. They rate predictability and financial strength. Malaysia is in more trouble than its leaders or many citizens recognise.

      Comment by Lawrence — May 10, 2009 @ 3:02 PM | Reply

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