DAP warns Malacca Chief Minister, Haji Ghani Ali, to comply with laws of Malacca and Standing Orders of Malacca State Assembly and not to hold a State Assembly session which is illegal and unconstitutional

Press Conference Statement by DAP Secretary-General and DAP Member of Parliament for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, at a Press Conference held at Jalan Sultan, Kuala Lumpur on Thursday, 13.10.1977 at 12 noon

DAP warns Malacca Chief Minister, Haji Ghani Ali, to comply with laws of Malacca and Standing Orders of Malacca State Assembly and not to hold a State Assembly session which is illegal and unconstitutional

I want to warn the Malacca Chief Minister, Haji Ghani Ali, to respect and comply with the laws of Malacca and the Standing Orders of the Malacca State Assembly, and not to disregard them or he may be causing the holding of illegal and unconstitutional State Assembly meetings.

According to Rule IV (5) of the Malacca State Assembly Standing Orders, “Written notice of any sitting shall be given by the Clerk to members to reach them not less than 25 clear days before the day of the meeting, but in cases of emergency the Speaker may dispense with such notice and in that event the longest possible notice shall be given.”

Originally, the Standing Orders provided for 14 clear days’ notice, but this was amended by the State Government in November last year, when the State Government mutilated the Standing Orders for their own interest, like for instance, putting question time as the last item of business, after motions, government bills – which is establishing parliamentary history in reversing all notions of parliamentary proceedings.

I understand that the State Executive Council has decided to recommend to the State Government that the State Assembly be convened on Nov. 7. This means that according to Standing Orders Rule IV (5) members must be given 25 ‘clear days’ written notice, which works out to latest October 12, 1977. This is a liberal interpretation. In fact, according to strict interpretation where clear days exclude Sundays, public holidays and half-days like Saturday s, the last day when State Assemblymen should be given notice would be Oct. 10 as Nov. 5 and 6 are respective Saturday and Sunday.

The DAP will be reasonable and accept the liberal interpretation – which still makes it out-of-time, and it is clearly now impossible for the Chief Minister to convene a State Assembly session beginning on Nov. 7 without making it highly questionable both from the legal and constitutional point of view. Up to this moment of time my colleagues and I have no received written notice of Assembly meeting.

I want here to draw the attention of the State Legal Adviser to this constitutional principle, and hope he would be able to advise the Chief Minister not to convene a State Assembly in contravention of the Standing Orders of the Malacca State Assembly, making it illegal and unconstitutional.

Although Standing Orders Rule IV (5) provides that “in cases of emergency the Speaker may dispense with such notice and in the event the longest possible notice shall be given” by no stretch of imagination can anyone, leas t of whom the Chief Minister or the Speaker, argue that there is an emergency situation requiring the exercise of the Speaker’s discretion under the Rule to shorten the required period of notice. It will be a laughing stock of the country for anyone to claim that in convening an ordinary budget session, there are ‘emergency’ conditions; unless incompetence and disregard of legal requirements is justification for invoking ‘emergency’ powers. This will be a gross abuse of power and discretion and will not be tolerated by the DAP or Malaysians.

If the Malacca Chief Minister, Speaker and the State Legal Adviser do not respect the law and the Standing of the assembly, how can they expect the people to respect the law of the land?

Last Sunday, the Acting Prime Minister, Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamed, said in Malacca that the UMNO Supreme Council would, indirectly, regulate and determine political and State Government activities. I do not want at this stage to comment on the propriety of this statement, which I leave for another occasion. But if this is what the UMNO Supreme Council and Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamed has publicly undertaken, then Dr. Mahathir should intervene to ensure that the Malacca State Government adhere strictly to laws and Standing Orders and not to convene State Assemblies which are illegal and unconstitutional.

Before a State Assembly is summoned, and the sending out of written notice to Members under Rule IV (5) giving 25 clear days’ the Governor had first to make a proclamation in the Gazette appointing the dates of the Assembly. I understand that the State Government has until yesterday not presented to the Governor a daft Proclamation for his signature.

I do not know whether a Proclamation has now been presented to the Governor for signature, but even if it had been done, for the convening of the State Assembly on Nov. 7, such an Assembly could not know by legally convened nor constitutionally defended. The Chief Minister should present a new Proclamation to the Governor for the summoning of the State Assembly which could comply with Rule IV (5) of the Standing Orders where State Assemblymen are given 25 clear days’ notice.

I would remind the Malacca Chief Minister to respect the Standing Orders and the laws. Last November, during the official opening of the Assembly session, before the Governor was invited into the Assembly to deliver his royal address, the Speaker unilaterally, against all parliamentary conventions and the Standing Orders, re-arranged the business of the Assembly, compelling the four DAP State Assemblymen to walk-out in protest to uphold the honour of the Standing Orders of the State Assembly. As a result, the Governor did not deliver his royal address to a full Legislative Assembly.

I hope that DAP assemblymen would not be compelled again during the forthcoming official opening to create a similar scene, this time to uphold the supreme of the laws and Standing Orders against illegal and unconstitutional tampering by the State Government.

Finally, Malacca State Assemblymen had received a letter dated 5th Oct. 1977 from the Clerk of the Assembly, Tengku Ifris Yenku Hadi, informing Assemblymen that the term of Senator Datuk Abdul Aziz bin Tapa would expire on 29th Nov. 1977, and that his vacancy would be filled in the State Assembly session beginning on 7th Nov. 1977. Members were supplied with nomination forms for the purpose of appointing a Senator.

This is most irregular improper. How can the Clerk of the Assembly announce that the Assembly would meet on Nov. 7, when the Governor has not yet signed the Proclamation appointing the dates of the Assembly? This is a gross disrespect to a State Ruler which should never occur where State Governments and State civil servants know their proper place vis-à-vis State Ruler. This latter by the Clerk calling for nomination to the Senate vacancy is not only premature, but improper, highly disrespectful to the Governor for the attempt to usurp the powers and prerogative of the State Ruler in announcing the dates of the Assembly Clerk should immediately withdraw the letter of 5th Oct. 1977, which is clearly invalid, and apologise to the Governor for this disrespect shown to the Governor. If he is not prepared to do so, I want to know why not.