The sultan of northern Perak state is facing rare criticism over his decision to sack the government without bothering to call a confidence vote in parliament. Instead, Sultan Azlan Shah decided to assess the balance of power in parliament himself by interviewing three lawmakers from the previous Pakatan Rakyat government who said they were defecting to the National Front coalition, which made up the state opposition. Satisfied that the National Front then had the numbers in the 59-seat assembly, he sacked Chief Minister Nizar Jamaluddin and installed a new government in the afternoon. The rest of the cabinet was sworn in on Tuesday. National Pakatan leader Anwar Ibrahim - who claims the defectors were unlawfully pressured to switch loyalties - is touring the country demanding that the sultan either reinstate Mr Nizar and his ministers or call fresh elections. 'At the very least, he should immediately order a confidence vote. We are confident the defectors would stand with us given a chance,' Mr Anwar told a rally. However, the next scheduled sitting of the legislature is not until mid-March. Royalists say the sultan has simply exercised his powers in a valid manner, but constitutional experts argue that he exceeded his traditional authority by not calling for a confidence vote. Mr Nizar and his fellow ex-ministers are refusing to concede that they are now in opposition, despite having been locked out of their ministerial offices. They are instead holding daily meetings in Mr Nizar's home, from where they claim to 'administer' the state, issuing orders that are now ignored by the civil service. 'The sultan has clearly overstepped his authority without taking either a confidence vote or holding fresh elections,' said Karpal Singh, a prominent human rights lawyer and Pakatan lawmaker. 'I will file a suit this week to declare the sultan's action illegal and void.' Malaysians, who usually regard their royal rulers as above reproach, have been expressing their anger in public. Stones have been thrown at royal entourages, effigies burned and angry messages have appeared on the royal website. Police have arrested 11 protesters since Friday. 'People feel that the elected Pakatan government was unfairly and unlawfully removed, and they are angry with the sultan,' said civil rights activist Haris Ibrahim, whose People's Parliament website is collecting signatures to pressure the sultan to rescind his decisions. According to International Islamic University law professor Abdul Aziz Bari, the sultan's decision was legally valid, but lacked 'maturity and statesmanship'. 'Even though the sultan personally met all the lawmakers to ascertain their loyalties, the democratic way is to publicly demonstrate it on the floor of the state legislature.'