DAP calls for Rukun Tetangga to be tabled for Parliamentary approval and not enacted as an Emergency regulation.

Speech by DAP Secretary-General and Member of Parliament for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, at an anniversary dinner organized by the Selangor DAP in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday, 18th Sept. 1975 at 8 p.m.

DAP calls for Rukun Tetangga to be tabled for Parliamentary approval and not enacted as an Emergency regulation.

The DAP is surprised that the Rukun Tetangga regulations were not presented to Parliament for approval, but was instead enacted as the Emergency Essential (Community Self- Reliance) Regulations 1975.

This is only the latest in the Barisan Nasional acts in by-passing and belitting the place and role of Parliament, and consequently, the meaning of Parliamentary democracy in the country.

The Rukun Tetangga was first talked about by Cabinet Ministers several month back, and there is absolutely no reason why these regulations could not have been presented to Parliament for adoption.

In view of the fact that Parliament is the highest legislative body, it is all the more objectionable that such a far-reaching set of laws should be promulgated as a decree, rather than as a law agreed to by the people’s elected representatives in Parliament.

The government leaders have often said that the communist struggle to set up their from of government by violent means cannot succeed because there is democracy in Malaysia.

It is important that the government leaders do not merely profess democracy, but practice it.

I await government explanation why the Rukun Tetangga was enacted as an emergency regulation. This is all the more serious as according to the Prime Minister said at a Press Conference in Sept. 11 severe penalties are provided under the regulations.

Thus, those who violate any provision of the Regulations are liable to a jail sentence and more than three years and a fine. Not with standing any written law to the country, any magistrate’s courting West Malaysia and a Court a Magistrate of the Second Class in Sabah and Sarawak shall have jurisdiction to try any offence under the Regulations and may impose a fine of not more than $10,000 and a jail sentence.

This means that these regulations have power to supersede laws passed by Parliament, which is highly undemocratic and against the very concept of the supremacy of Parliament.

Another provision in the regulations, which provides that if a member of a family is charged for the commission, attempt or preparation of an offence, all members of the family above 14 years will have to prove they are innocent, is another disturbing feature, which makes a mockery of the rule of justice that a man is innocent until proved guilty.

Only a few days ago, after the High Court dismissal of the appeal by the Public Prosecutor against the acquittal of 60 students charged with taking part in an unlawful assembly at Masjid Negara on Dec. 3 last year, the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General, Tan Sri Abdul Kadir Yusuf, proposed amending the law on identification and burden of proof relating to trials involving a group or large number of people.

The government is stacking the odds against the individual and his fundamental liberties, while in matters which merit serious government attention, like corruption by politicians and high-up civil servants, the government continues to close an eye and allow loopholes in the law and permit their non-enforcement.

Thus, although we hear repeated Ministerial talk about corruption as one of the biggest enemies of the nation, there is no talk of requiring a politician or high-up civil servant who has amassed wealth well beyond his average means of income to prove that he is innocent of corruption.

The DAP opposes ant attempt to amend the law on evidence on identification and burden of proof relating to trials involving a group of large number of people, because we cannot agree to the progressive curtailment of the fundamental rights of the people.

After the general elections, free speech was given a grave blow with the police ban on public rallies, to prevent Opposition parties from breaking through the government propaganda campaign to tell the people about the truths of the national situation.