Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader and DAP Secretary-General, Lim Kit Siang, at a forum organised by the University of Malaya History Society entitled “Malaysian Politics Today in the context of History” held at Arts Faculty, University of Malaya, on Friday, 4th November 1977 at 8 p.m.
DAP calls on Prime Minister, Dato Hussein Onn, not to impose NOC-type of rule in Kelantan which will be a subversion of the democratic basis of the Malaysian Constitution and proposes general elections in Kelantan to return the mandate to the People.
I wish to start my talk tonight by first discussing the present political crisis in Kelantan, not only because it is the hottest political topic of the day, but because of the light it throes on the political and democratic process in the country.
On Oct. 1, the Kelantan State Assembly by majority PAS vote passed a vote of no confidence in the Kelantan Mentri Besar, Mohamed Nasir.
Public demonstrations and meetings, which had started in August and September in support of Mohamed Nasir when he was asked to show cause why he should not be expelled from PAS, increased in frequency and size – all the time with the knowledge, consent and even encouragement of the higher authorities in Kuala Lumpur. In fact, in one of the mass rallies before the Oct 1Vote of Confidence, the Kelantan C.P.O. himself opened the door of Mohamed Nasir’s car to welcome him to rally – which was without police permit.
Until 19th October 1977, when a 24-hour curfew was imposed in Kota Bahru, and which was extended the next day to Pasir Mas. It was then that the Police announced that they would not allow any more illegal rallies and demonstrations.
Meanwhile, what is known as the four-point Mahathir formula was mooted, proposed, counter-proposed; and o 1, 2nd November, Dato Hussein Onn met PAS leaders and told them to give him an answer by Monday.
The Mahathir formula is the imposition of a NOC-type of government, like the one headed by Tun Razak in 1969, with a MCS officer heading the Kelantan State Government, after emergency legislation suspending the Kelantan State Constitution is rushed through Parliament under Article 150 of the Constitution
Article 150 of the Constitution provides that if the Yang di-Pertuan Agong (acting on Cabinet advice) is satisfied that a grave emergency exists whereby the security of the economic life of the Federation or any part thereof is threatened, he is empowered to issue a proclamation of emergency, and Parliament may legislate emergency law to suspend state constitutions and even impose undemocratic NOC-type of rule.
I think It must be very rare that the threat of a declaration of Emergency and the imposition of a NOC-type of rule to replace democratic and popularly-elected government has been used to blatantly in a conflict between political parties and personalities.
This is deplorable. Either a grave emergency exists or it does not. If a grave emergency exists, then Proclamation of Emergency should have long been made, and not dependent on the acceptance or rejection of the Mahathir formula – which is proof that no Emergency proof enough situation exists in Kelantan – for an emergency situation cannot await Mahathir formulas! Emergency situation justifying Proclamation of Emergency waits for no person!
The threat of a Proclamation of Emergency in Kelantan under Article 150 and the imposition of NOC-type of rule is therefore being used by UMNO to blackmail PAS to accept the Mahathir formula.
I call on the Prime Minister to desist and not to impose a NOC-type of rule in Kelantan, for it is not only a clear abuse of power, but a subversion of the democratic basis of the Malaysian Constitution.
In a democratic society, power resides with the people, and the most democratic and sensible solution to the Political Crisis is to hold general elections in the state for the people to decide they want to give the new mandate to govern.
Excuses that the people of Kelantan are worked up and that it is not possible to hold a peaceful and trouble-free general elections is too lame au and weak to warrant serious consideration, for a pronounced police and security presence in the State should be able to ensure the peaceful conduct of general elections.
And if PAS and UMNO have acted all along in the best interests of the people, and believe in the final power of the people, they should have no serious objections to solve the Political Crisis in the most democratic manner possible.
In fact, this can be done right away, and the Kelantan State Assembly dissolve. Clause XVI (6) of the Kelantan constitution provides:
“If the Mentri Besar ceases to command the confidence of the majority of the members of the Legislative Assembly, then, unless at his request his Highness dissolves the Legislative Assembly, he shall tender the resignation of the State Executive Council.”
Immediately after the vote of no confidence on Oct. 1, Mohamed Nair recommended the dissolution of the Kelantan State Assembly. Over a month has passed, and there has neither been dissolution nor resignation by mentri Besar, and this is constitutionally most improperly indeed.
Whatever the political differences, the State Constitution as the basic legal document of the land, should be respected and adhered to, both in words and spirit, for if it is seen that the Constitution of the Land could be bent or undermined through most unconstitutional practices, then the final losers will be the Constitution, the people and the entire system of constitutional democracy.
I am not a defender for Mohamed Nasir, or PAS or UMNO, and I am concerned to see that the democratic basis of the Malaysian constitution is not subverted or the integrity of the democratic system undermined by partisan political forces.
There is no doubt that politically, the continued holding of the position of Mentri Besar, after the vote of no confidence, helps UMNO both in Kelantan and in Kuala Lumpur in their attempt to impose the Mahathir formula.
There is also no doubt that the spate of public demonstrations and rallies before and after the Oct. 1 Vote of No Confidence also helped the UMNO plan of action.
Again, there is also no doubt that the imposition of curfew and the proposed NOC-type of rule will benefit UMNO.
But these advantages and gains by UMNO will be made through breaches of the law and subversion of the democratic basis of the Constitution.
In fact, on looking on the events in Kelantan these few months, I craw the following conclusions:
1. Mohamed Nasir has been encouraged by UMNO to stand up against PAS< and the demonstrations and public rallies before and after the Oct. 1 Vote of No Confidence had been allowed and even encouraged by those in authority in Kelantan and Kuala Lumpur – not to uphold the principle that the people have the final say in their political future, by the holding of a general elections, but to create the conditions whereby NOC-rule can be imposed. In this sense, Nasir has been used, the people of Kelantan too have been used, and PAS betrayed by its elder partner in the Barisan Nasional. Democracy demands of only one solution to the Kelantan crisis General Elections. But if both PAS and UMNO are not prepared to accede to the people their popular demand and right, then constitutional propriety and the integrity of the democratic system demands of only one other answer: that the Party which sustains the majority in the State Assembly appoints the Mentri Besar and forms the Executive Council. An NOC-type of government will mark is only justifiable from the UMNO point of view, of giving them for the first time after Independence, a firm grip of Kelantan government – but not from the point of view of democracy or the interests of the people. Curfew in Kota Bahru has been lifted from 5 a.m. To 9p.m. And there has been incidents for over a week. Curfew in Kota Bahru should be completely lifted, and a state of tension should not be artifically created and maintained just to justify the political demand of UMNO for Mageran-rule. That this type of tactics had been used fro further Core before to justify undemocratic practices, like NOC rule, had been pointed out by no other person than Dr. Mahathir Mohamed himself in 1971, where in an article, he wrote: “Under the national Operation council all democratic practices were suspended. Even trade unions had their activities curbed. For a long time a state of tension was artifically maintained by a one-hour curfew imposed on the capital, Kuala Lumpur.” Malacca Chief Minister and 15 other Malacca Barisan nasional State Assemblymen summoned to be brief by Dr. Mahathir about DAP's voice of no confidence in Malacca State Assembly next week. The events of the last few months have shown a greater concentration of power in the Federal Government at the expense of the State Governments, which is not only unhealthy but undemocratic and unconstitutional. In Malacca, for instance, the State Government does not exists, and every important step has to be made by Dr. Mahathir bun Mohamed, not in his capacity as Deputy Prime Minister, but UMNO Malacca State Chairman. After a long interval, the Malacca State Assembly will meet on Monday. The DAP will move a motion of no confidence on the Malacca Chief Minister, Ghani Ali. Just because of this motion, all the Barisan Nasional State Assemblymen from Malacca had been summoned to Kuala Lumpur to meet Dr. Mahathir and get his briefing as to how to react to the DAP motion. This is downright ridiculous. Is there a Malacca State Government with an entity of its own, or is there not? The DAP motion of no confidence should be dealt with by the Malacca State Assemblymen themselves, and there should be no interference from Kuala Lumpur whether by Dr. Mahathir or by anybody else.