The new Ketua Pembangkang, Lim Kit Siang, in his first action after his appointment, has written to the Prime Minister, Tun Razak, Asking for a debate of the Essential (Security Cases) Regulation 1957 to be held before the Budget debate which begins next week.
His letter to the Prime Minister reads:
I refer to your undertaking in the Dewan Rakyat on Oct. 27 in response to my supplementary question time, that my motion ‘That This House repeats the Essential (Security Cases) Regulation 1975’ would be debated.
The 1976 Budget debate, both the second reading and the committee stage, is scheduled to begin from next Monday, 10th November, going on till 17th December 1975.
I am writing to you to ask you, as Leader of the House, to allocate time for a debate on the Essential (Security Cases) Regulations 1975 before the start of the Budget debate next week, or at least by next Monday, and delay the start of the Budget debate by one or two days.
It is the considered view of all Opposition Parliamentarians that it is in the public interest to have an early debate on the Essential (Security Cases)Regulation 1975, and not defer it until the second half of December.
This is particularly imperative when we note that many persons have already been charged under the new Security Cases Regulations, which strip away all the essential safeguards for a fair trial.
The Opposition in Parliament strongly feels that no case under the new Regulation should precede a Parliamentary resolutions on the Regulations, and hence the added urgency of an early debate on the Regulations before the start of the Budget debate.
It was highly improper for the Essential (Security Cases) Regulations, which altered so drastically the legal and constitutional rights of Malaysians, to be made by virtue of Sections 2 of the Emergency (Essential Powers) Ordinance No.1, 1969, when firstly, the 1969 Emergency covered different circumstances from those facing the country today, and secondly, when Parliament had already been summoned to meet.
In fact, the impropriety is so manifest that it tantamount to a usurpation of Parliamentary powers and functions by the Executive, another reason why these Regulations should without any more delay come before Parliament for a resolution.
The Rule of Law is also another victim of the Regulations. As the Malayan Bar Council Memorandum to Members of Parliament has pointed out, these Regulations would demoralise all who believe in the Rule of Law in this country by bringing the law into disrepute. This is because the principle that a man is presumed innocent until he is proved guilty is the most fundamental of all the basic tenets of the legal profession.
I wish here to point out further that the Regulations, in presuming guilty until proof of innocence, is a direct violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1968.
Article 11 of the Universal Declarations of Human Rights states:
1. Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in public trail at which he has had all guarantees necessary for his defence.
2. No one shall be held guilty of any penal offence on account of any act of omission which did not constitute a penal offence, under national of international law, at the time when it was committed. Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the penal offence was committed.
Thus , the Essential (Security Cases) Regulations violates both Clauses of Article 11 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in presuming guilt until proof of innocence, and in providing for retrospective effect of its penalty provisions.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a common standard of achievement which we, as a Member nation of the United Nations, have pledged to strive to promote respect and to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance.
Malaysia has already fallen short of many rights and freedoms enunciated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and put Malaysia farther and farther away from the accepted standards of civilized nations. As parliament is the supreme legislative body, such measures can only be taken by Parliament alone, especially as Parliament is in session.
This is why the Opposition in Parliament is requesting an early debate on these Regulations, which gravely damage the principle of Parliamentary democracy and sovereignty, the Rule of Law and Malaysia’s world standing via-a-via the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
I understand that the government is amending the Essential (Security Cases) Regulations 1975. I would take this opportunity to urge the removal of all those features in the Regulations which strip essential safeguards for a fair trial, like the presumption that a man is guilty unless proved innocent, the giving of testimony by hidden of unidentified witnesses, the limited rights of appeals, and many others. In fact, I would urge the repeal of the entire Regulations by the government, and if the government feels that more powers are needed by the Executive, it should come to Parliament for such powers.
(Lim Kit Siang)