Proposed abolition of constitutional appeals to the Privy Council – the tyranny of the majority

Talk by DAP Organising Secretary, Mr Lim Kit Siang, to the Seremban DAP Branch premises on Sunday, July 7 at 3 p.m. to discuss preparations for the coming general election.

The first time the Alliance government tried to abolish constitutional appeals to the Privy Council was in 1965, when the Alliance government was known to be seriously thinking of resorting to unconstitutional methods to take over the Singapore government from the People’s Action Party.

For over a year previously, the People’s Action Party has mounted in Malaysia an ever-growing political and democratic challenge to the very basis of Alliance power.

The Alliance and the MCA were at a loss as to how to counter the superior ideology, organization, dedication and leadership of the People’s Action Party.

Unable to match the PAP in the political debate and argument, the Alliance leadership began to think of unconstitutional methods to deal with the PAP challenge.

Hence the move in the middle of 1965 to abolish appeals to the Privy Council in cases of constitutional law.

The opposition parties and the Malaysian Bar Council protested against the proposed abolition. But what saved the Privy Council in 1965 were not the protests of opposition parties or the Bar Council, but the disappearance of the political motive of the Alliance for such a move.

For on August 9, 1965, Singapore was kicked out of Malaysia. With the Singapore PAP out of Malaysian Federation, and no more posing a political threat to Alliance power, the Alliance lost interest in pressing for the abolition of the Privy Council.

Today, three years after, the Alliance has revived its move to abolish constitutional appeals to the Privy Council.

As in 1965, the openly stated reason for such a move are not the true reasons.

Tun Razak and Alliance leaders have argued that the continuance of the Privy Council is a derogation of Malaysian sovereignty.

There are eleven other Commonwealth countries, including Singapore, which have retained the Privy Council. Is the Alliance government suggesting that these countries are not sovereign nations?

If by sovereignty, the Alliance means absolute independence in all fields, why then should the Alliance government call for five- nation Defence Talks in an effort to get Commonwealth help in Malaysian defence after British withdrawal?

Similarly, why should Malaysian Ministers go round advanced countries to beg for loans and financial assistance? Isn’t this is a derogation from Malaysian sovereignty?

As in 1965, the present attempt to abolish constitutional appeals to the Privy Council is purely motivated by political reasons.

The Alliance has in recent months realised that it is not as popular with the people as it had thought.

The Education Minister and Alliance election strategist and superman, Inche Khir Johari, has listed Negeri Sembilan as a ‘danger’ state for the Alliance.

In his speech to the Johol UMNO in Negeri Sembilan last week (June 30), Inche Khir Johari warned Alliance members to double up their work to prevent the Democratic Action Party from capturing the State Government in the next elections.

The Alliance and UMNO is equally worried about the Selangor State, where the DAP has struck deep roots and received wide general support from the people.

The next general elections may also see the Alliance losing the Sarawak state to the opposition.

What the Alliance is apparently trying to do is to prepare the ground to enable them to take unconstitutional action against opposition-run state government, as they were thinking of doing to the Singapore Government when it was still in Malaysia.

The abolition of the constitutional appeals to the Privy Council is a threat to the fundamental liberties and rights of the people of Malaysia.

This is a matter which all Malaysians and all organisations, whether civic or political, must oppose, condemn and fight against. Otherwise, the people will find that in 1964, the Malaysians voters had put into office a new tyranny — the tyranny of the Alliance majority, which would not allow it power to be removed by peaceful, democratic and constitutional means.

We therefore call on all Malaysians to come forward and organise themselves to fight against the proposed abolition of the Privy Council in constitutional cases.

Audited on 2021-03-19