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BUSINESS AS USUAL: Negri Sembilan's administration will continue serving the people until the next general election
IF Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak does not call for a dissolution of Parliament and advise other states under Barisan Nasional government rule to jointly do so by today, then at the stroke of midnight on March 27, Negri Sembilan will make national history on Thursday to become the first state legislative assembly to enter automatic dissolution.
According to the state legislative assembly Speaker, Datuk Razak Mansor, the assemblymen took their oath, signed the watikah and held its first session on March 27, 2008, thus making tomorrow the last day of its five-year mandate from the people.
According to Election Commission (EC) data, Negri Sembilan is the only state in Malaysia (excluding Sarawak, which held its 10th state assembly sitting on June 22, 2011) which will dissolve in March as it was among the earliest states to convene its state assembly after the 12th general election on March 8, 2008.
Other states' first assemblies were held as follows: Pahang, April 7, 2008; Johor and Malacca, April 21, 2008; Selangor, April 22, 2008; Perak, April 25, 2008; Perlis and Kelantan, April 28, 2008; Penang, May 2, 2008; and lastly, Terengganu, Sabah and Kedah, May 5, 2008.
The Dewan Rakyat's first session was on April 28, 2008.
With the dissolution of the Negri Sembilan state assembly, the EC will have 60 days to call an election for the 36 state seats, and that date ends on May 28.
It should be noted that last week in Pekan, EC deputy chairman Datuk Wan Ahmad Wan Omar told the media that their decision to hold state and parliamentary elections simultaneously in the upcoming 13th general election is final and it was made after considering several factors, including cost savings.
If the prime minister decides to stretch and let Parliament serve its full term, and counting the 60-day period from Negri Sembilan's automatic dissolution, as well as what the EC said, the 13th general election could fall anywhere between April 28 and May 28 this year.
Public holidays during this period are May 1 (Workers Day), May 7 (Hol Day of Pahang and only for Pahang), May 17 (Birthday of Raja of Perlis and for Perlis only), and May 24 (Wesak Day for all states).
Coming back to Negri Sembilan, a lot of people who are not well informed on automatic dissolution voiced their fears that the state administration will come to a halt due to the automatic dissolution of the state legislative assembly.
This is not true, said Prof Datuk Abd Halim Sidek, a political analyst and law professor at Universiti Malaysia Kelantan.
According to Halim, Malaysia follows the Westminster style of government which has three branches of power -- the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary.
"At the stroke of midnight on March 27, only the Legislature would be automatically dissolved, while the Executive and Judiciary still runs.
"This means the state legislative assembly can no longer hold any session, which means the assemblymen can no longer go into the Dewan, they cannot table, debate, pass, or amend any laws.
"But the executive power which is the state secretary, the Menteri Besar's office, and state administration can continue running the state administration based on any policies, rules, laws that have been approved before the automatic dissolution, but they cannot sign new decrees, approve or ban any projects," said Halim.
Thus, during this period, a caretaker government will be formed from the existing administration as its services need to run as usual. For example, people need to go to land offices to get their sale and purchase agreements signed, and the police will continue to do their job.
Halim said the Judiciary would also function as usual with courts going into session and people could be prosecuted, charged and even hanged.
At the same time, state assemblymen would still receive their salary through warrants as they are still the people's representative until the 13th general election result replaces them.
"Assemblymen still need to serve the people right until the day a new person is elected to replace them, so their salary will continue as they need the money to meet and help the people. They may no longer be able to enter the dewan (but) they are still the representatives of the people," he said.
Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan has also repeatedly told the people that the administration will continue serving the people even after the end of the mandate until the next general election.
For the state's more than one million citizens, this is reassuring as the current leadership has proven its capabilities in bringing steady development to Negri Sembilan.
The 557,022 registered voters in the state, meanwhile, will be eagerly awaiting the EC's announcement for the nomination and polling dates.