Press Conference Statement by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary – General and MP for Petaling, Lim Kit Siang, in Parliament House on 26.10.78:
Call on Police to take action against MP for Kinabalu, Mark Koding, for questioning Article 152 of the Constitution guaranteeing the position of the other languages
When I spoke in Parliament in the Royal Address debate on 13.10.1978, I draw the attention of the Minister for Law and Attorney – General, Datuk Hamzah and the Minister of Home Affairs, Tan Sri Ghazalie Shafie, to the speech which the MP for Kinabalu, Mark Koding, made in Parliament, calling for the closure of Chinese and Tamil primary schools, the banning of other languages on signboards, and the amendment of Article 152 of the Constitution to allow such measures to be taken.
I called on both Ministers to take police and legal action against Mark Koding, because he had challenged and questioned a ‘sensitive’ issue.
In 1971, the then Alliance Government amended the Constitution to make four issues ‘sensitive’, which cannot be questioned whether inside or outside Parliament; and which made it a seditious offence for anyone to question it.
One of these four sensitive issues is Article 152, and during the Parliamentary debate in 1971, the Government Ministers assured the country that the constitutional amendment has entrenched and placed beyond challenge not only the provision in Article 152 about Malay being the National Language, but also the position of the other languages as stipulated in Article 152.
Since the amendment of the Constitution to make four issues ‘sensitive’, ‘entrenched’ and unquestionable, several Opposition leaders, including MPs, had been charged in court for questioning sensitive issues.
We have now an instance of an MP, though Independent in name, but clearly sponsored by Berjaya and a protégé of Datuk Harris Salleh, who has questioned and challenged Article 152 in Parliament in regard to the constitutional position of the other languages.
I regret that neither the Law Minister nor the Home Affairs Minister had replied to my speech in Parliament on 13.10.78 as to whether they would be instituting proceedings against Mark Koding.
DAP MP for Kota Melaka and Assistant National Organising Secretary. Chan Teck Chan, has this morning, lodged a police report on the commission of an offence by Mark Koding in questioning Article 152 on the constitutional position of the other languages in his speech in Parliament on 11.10.78. There should now be no excuse for inaction for the government.
The people of Malaysia want to know whether firstly, the law is applied equally and fairly to all; and secondly, whether the ‘sensitive’ and constitutionally entrenched issues applies to all the provisions in the Article 152 or only to one portion.
For general information, the amendment to the Sedition Ordinance consequent on the Constitutional amendment, makes it an offence for anyone “to persuade the subjects of any Ruler….to attempt to procure by lawful means the alteration” of any one of the sensitive, entrenched issues. This means, that anyone who calls for the amendment of Article 152, whether with regard to Malay as Bahasa Malaysia as national language, or the position of other languages, has committed a seditious offence.