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IPOH, Sept 2 — Pakatan Rakyat’s (PR) state assembly sitting today approved a decision by its rights and privileges committee to arrest and jail for six months Barisan Nasional (BN) Speaker Datuk R Ganesan and his deputy Hee Yit Foong for their role in the May 7 fracas.

The two were also fined RM500,000 by the assembly, which convened at the Heritage Hotel here with 23 PR lawmakers after they were forcibly stopped from entering the state secretariat building this morning.

Ganesan and Hee, who had defected from DAP, were elected to their posts after policemen removed Sivakumar by force at the state assembly sitting on May 7. Their appointments remain contentious because they were voted in amid chaotic scenes before Raja Nazrin Shah declared open the assembly.

Since then, Sivakumar has maintained that he remains the legitimate Speaker of the state legislature.

Today’s sitting, while slammed by Barisan Nasional (BN) as a political ploy, is a move by PR to maintain the stand that it still legitimately controls the legislature nearly nine months after a controversial power grab that is still being disputed.

Sivakumar presided over the assembly with no BN assemblymen present, even though sitting was arranged for them.

After the vote on Ganesan and Hee, the PR Speaker issued a directive for the police to take action and arrest the duo, but this is not likely to be executed as the authorities have said they do not recognise the sitting.

Among the other decisions made by the rights and privileges committee which was passed by the sitting today include further suspensions of BN Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Zambry Abd Kadir, senior executive councilor Hamidah Osman and five other BN exco members.

The sitting also approved the membership to three legislative committees — on rights and privileges, public accounts and standing orders — with nominations made for one BN representative in each panel.

A final emergency motion condemning the actions taken by the police earlier this morning as well as the role played by the BN administration in preventing lawmakers from entering the state secretariat was also passed.

Earlier, police arrested three Perak lawmakers this morning, including state DAP chief Ngeh Koo Ham, as they forcibly blocked a group of PR representatives from entering the state secretariat building here to convene a state assembly sitting.

The PR lawmakers, including former mentri besar Datuk Seri Nizar Jamaluddin, who was ousted by BN in the power grab, were engaged in a scuffle with riot police before eventually dispersing.

Besides Ngeh, others arrested included Simpang Pulai assemblyman Chan Ming Kai; Malim Nawar representative Keshvinder Singh, who was kicked by policemen; and a Nanyang Siangpau photographer.

Three other members of the public, believed to be PR supporters, were also detained.

Keshvinder, who sustained injuries during the scuffle, has been taken to hospital.

Police had rolled out barbed wire and placed riot police with water cannons around the Perak state assembly, brandishing a court order barring assemblies within 30 metres of the area.

PR lawyers had tried in vain this morning to set aside the court order, but could not obtain an appointment with any magistrate.

Sivakumar had called for the sitting six months — as required by law — after the last sitting that was forced to be held under a rain tree.

The Pakatan Rakyat government fell last February when three lawmakers quit to turn independent in the 59-seat assembly, locking both Pakatan and Barisan Nasional with 28 lawmakers each.

The Perak ruler asked Pakatan mentri besar Nizar to quit the post but he refused, saying only the state assembly could force his resignation.

The Sultan also rejected Nizar’s advice to dissolve the assembly and call for fresh elections, and instead named BN’s Pangkor assemblyman Datuk Zambry Abdul Kadir as the new mentri besar.

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