Federal Court to Decide on Vacancy of Seats

IPOH Tue 17 March 2009: The suit filed by the three independent assemblymen seeking to declare that they did not vacate their seats will be referred to the Federal Court.

The High Court said yesterday that five question would be referred to the Federal Court-touching on issues such as validity their undated resignation letters and whether the state speaker or the Election Commission had the final say on the vacancy of a state seat.

However, counsel refused to disclose the questions.

Badrul Hishah Abdul Wahab, one of the lawyers for the three assemblymen, confirmed that a final draft of the questions was submitted to judicial commissioner Ridwan Ibrahim after proceedings ended yesterday.

Lead Counsel Firoz Hussein Ahmad Jamaluddin, when asked why the questions wre not framed before Ridwan was asked to refer the matter to Federal Court, replied:\”They were sort of framed because there were oral submissions.\”

Earlier, lawyers representing state Speaker V. Sivakumar declined to participate in formulating the questions, saying that Ridwan had \”put the cart before the horse\” when he decided to refer the matter to the Federal Court without first determining the questions.

His Lead Counsel Chan Kok Keong said he would file an appeal against Ridwan\’s decision, arguing that cases should only be referred to the Federal Court if constitutional provisions were vague and ambiguous, and not because this case involved a difficult matter.

Ranjit Singh, who appeared for three former executives councillors and three voters from the Behrang, Changkat Jering and Jelapang seats in an application to intervene, also excused himself.

Earlier, Chan tried to get Ridwan to recuse himself from the case. However, before the matter could be decided, Firoz brought up the issue of referring the questions to the Federal Court.

Chan applied for a stay pending an appeal but his request was denied.

State legal adviser Datuk Ahmad Kamal Md Hahid and counsel Ng Mung Yin held a watching brief for the Perak government and DAP respectively.