Abdication of parliamentary responsibility

(Speech by the Parliamentary Leader, DAP Secretary-General and Member of Parliament for Petaling, Lim Kit Siang, in the Dewan Rakyat when winding up on the motion calling for the annulment of the Four Proclamation of Emergency of 1964, 1966, 1969 and 1977 on June 29, 1979)

Yesterday, when moving the motion that Parliament annul the Four Proclamations of Emergency now still in force, namely the 1964 Proclamation of Indonesian Confrontation, the 1966 Proclamation aimed at toppling Stephen Kalong Ningkan as Chief Minister of Sarawak, the 1969 Proclamation of May 13 riots, and the 1977 Proclamation to oust PAS from its traditional rule over Kelantan State, I said that the four sets of conditions of the Four Proclamations have long ceased to exist.

Unfortunately, during yesterday’s debate, Barisan and UMN0 back-benchers said a lot, but nobody really explained why for instance the 1964 Emergency Proclamation should continue when Indonesian Confrontation had ended or why the 1966 Emergency Proclamation-should continue when Stephen Kalong Ningkan had been toppled as Sarawak Chief Minister and three general elections had been held in Sarawak since then, or why the 1977 Emergency Proclamation should continue when UMNO is safely in control of the Kelantan State Government. Even for the 1969 Proclamation of Emergency, not a single Government MP dealt cogently, rationally ; soberly with my argument that as it was promulgated to deal with a grave emergency, namely May 13 riots, the Proclamation should be terminated with the end of that emergency situation

On the other hand, Parliament was treated to emotional frothings and even hysterical histrionics, largely irrelevant and unrelated to the issues involved in this motion.

Parliament will be committing a grave abdication of its constitutional responsibility if it refused to annul the Four Proclamations of 1964, 1966, 1969 and 1977 when the emergency conditions giving birth to emergency proclamations have ceased to exist.

Unfortunately, the Barisan and UMNO backbenchers who spoke especially those who spoke yesterday, do not seem to have a whit of understanding of the constitutional arguments and parliamentary duties and responsibilities I presented and argued.

Frankly, I have never felt so sorry for the august Chamber that Parliament is meant to be. If illiterate, untaught and unschooled people talk about constitutional provisions or parliamentary nonsense responsibilities, this is understandable, because they have no opportunity to inform or educate themselves about these matters.

But when Members of Parliament come to Parliament and talk nonsense about constitutional provisions and parliamentary responsibilities, showing them no better than the most illiterate, untaught and unschooled, then I say this is not only most shocking, but brings Parliament into disrepute and contempt in the eyes of the people.

I would seriously suggest to the Prime Minister that MPs who talk rubbish and nonsense in the House, showing abysmal ignorance about elementary matters of constitutional provisions and/or parliamentary duties should be referred to the House Privileges Committee for breach of privilege, because they expose the House to contempt and disrepute They are a disgrace to Parliament.

I would seriously commend to the Government Whip that before Barisan and UMNO backbenchers take part in DAP motions in future, they should be required to go through a crash course to educate them about the Malaysian Constitution, about law-making and legislation, and parliamentary duties and responsibilities, so that they will not be a disgrace to the ruling government, but even more, to Parliament.

The Member for Pasir Puteh should remember that ’empty vessels make the most noise’. He made the irresponsible and contemptible charge that only the disloyal, the irresponsible groups in the country who want to see chaos and bloodshed, want the Proclamations of Emergency annulled.

Can he explain how the annulment of the Indonesian Confrontation Proclamation of Emergency of 1964 could have brought about chaos and bloodshed to the country? Or could the annulment of the 1966 Sarawak Emergency Proclamation do so? Or the annulment of the 1969 Proclamation or 1977 Emergency Proclamation bring about chaos and bloodshed, when the Government has in its possession all the security powers it needed from Article 149 of the Constitution to deal with subversion, organised violence or crimes prejudicial to the public?

Not one speaker from the Government side explained why the country needs Four Proclamations to assure peace and stability. Or do they think that the more Proclamations of Emergency we have, then the more peaceful, stable, secure Malaysia becomes? If this is the case, then the Government should promulgate a Proclamation of Emergency every day!

The Member for Pasir Puteh’s irresponsible and contemptible charge that only the disloyal, the irresponsible groups and those who want chaos and bloodshed, support the annulment of Proclamations of Emergency, insults the intelligence of all thinking Malaysians, and shows what a contemptible and despicable creature he is.

The former Chief Justice, the late Tan Sri Ong Hock Thye, in a prescient article in the December 1976 article issue of INSAF, the Journal of the Bar Council (Vol. IX No. 3), entitled “Is the 1969 State of Emergency Still an Existing Fact”, strongly argued that “the state of emergency which was proclaimed on May 15, 1969 had in due course died a natural death, like its predecessor of the Confrontation era although, after example of the earlier emergency, no Proclamation was made to mark its obsequies.”

Tan Sri Ong wrote: “… an emergency Ordinance expressly designed for countermeasures dealing with a certain state of emergency arising at a particular point of time cannot possibly be held to have survived, and retained its full force and effect, after the justification for its very existence has disappeared with the passing of the emergency itself. This statement of principle is so manifestly just and right that no authority in support need be cited.”

In the article, Tan Sri Ong cogently argued that the state of grave emergency giving birth to the 1969 Proclamation of Emergency had Jong ceased to exist.

For instance, Tan Sri Ong wrote: “After over a year’s delay, public tranquility was restored, the interrupted general election in the Borneo States was resumed and Parliament duly reconvened in February 1971. Regular sessions of Parliament have since followed, including another general election in 1974. (This article was written in 1976). There had been no new or fresh Proclamation of Emergency after that of May 15, 1969. No state of actual crisis, in the sense of a situation constituting a grave threat to the national security or the life of the community, had arisen during these intervening years. Throughout Malaysia, as a whole, life had been fully restored to normal in every way the Merdeka Football Tournament has again become an annual fixture; horse-racing provides a regular week-end diversion for a multitude of people in Penang, Ipoh, Kuala Lumpur, nothing has deterred Cabinet Ministers and other high official leaving the country at all times for international conferences and other missions, or vacations abroad (which would have been unthinkable during any state of emergency); there have been neither riots nor other disturbances affecting public order and safety, nor organised violence against persons and property – against which contingencies the Internal Security Act of 1960 had already made full and adequate provision.”

Is the Member for Pasir Puteh suggesting that that late Tan Sri Ong Hock Thye was disloyal, irresponsible and wanted to see bloodshed and chaos, ‘perhaps on a larger scale than the May 13 incident’, when he argued that the 1969 Proclamation of Emergency has ceased to have legal force because the situation of ‘grave emergency’ has long ended?

For the Member of Pasir Puteh’s information, Tan Sri Ong Hock Thye was commended both by the Lord President, Tun Suffian, and the Law Minister and Attorney-General in a Reference in his memory in the Federal Court in Kuala Lumpur on April 16, 1977 after his death on 22nd March 1977 as being in the ‘vanguard’ to defend the Independence of the Judiciary, which is one of the pillars of our constitution and parliamentary system.

Speeches by the Member of Pasir Puteh and others who spoke in like vein are a slur in the memory of men like the late Tan Sri Ong Hock Thye and of other living Malaysians in great numbers, who use their intelligence and thinking cap, who sincerely hold the view that the Proclamations of Emergency should be revoked or annulled, as the original set of circumstances giving birth to them had ceased to exist, without being any less strong and unyielding in their love and dedication to Malaysia.

The Member for Pasir Puteh and other Barisan MPs, including what is the most shocking of all, the Gerakan Member of Parliament for Kepong, Dr. Tan Tiong Hong, show that they just do not know what are emergency powers and laws, and what are not emergency powers and laws. For instance, both the Member for Pasir Puteh and Dr. Tan Tiong Hong, said that the Proclamations of Emergency were still needed to deal with the many problems facing the country, including the problem of drug abuse.

I fully agree that drug abuse is a major problem in Malaysia, which the Barisan Government appear incompetent and impotent in bringing under check and control. But, I want to ask the Member for Pasir Puteh and his colleague , the Gerakan Member for Kepong, what has drug abuse and war against drugs have to do with the Four Proclamations of Emergency of 1964, 1966, 1969, 1977? Is Dr.Tan Tiong Hong aware that the law which the country has to fight drug abuse and traffiking is the Dangerous Drugs Ordinance 1952, with its many amendments, and which would not be affected in any way, regardless of whether the Four Proclamations of Emergency are continued or annulled?

I do not know why Barisan MPs like the Members for Pasir Puteh and Kepong, Dr. Tan Tiong Hong, want to talk about things they know nothing

The Member for Pasir Puteh made another irresponsible and contemptible charge that only those who want to bring about the failure of the New Economic Policy would want the Emergency Proclamations annulled.

Can the Member for Pasir Puteh tell whether the success of the NEP is dependent on one Proclamation or Four Proclamations? And on which emergency laws or ordinances the annulment of- which would spell the failure of NEP?

I have said in this House early this week that the Greatest Saboteurs of the New Economic Policy are the political and government leaders who make use of the NEP to become rich and wealthy, as exposed in the White Paper and Price Waterhouse Report on the Great Bank Rakyat Scandal requiring Parliament to approve up to now $155 million as loans to salvage Bank Rakyat– with even more sums to be required in the future. But for the Member for Pasir Puteh, the so-called great champion of the NEP, he has nothing to say about such Great Betrayals, where UMNO leaders take loans, which are money from poor peasants, fishermen and low-rung government servants, running into hundreds of thousands of dollars without paying even interest. This shows the true colours of the Member of Parliament for Pasir Puteh, the false champion of the poor peasants and fishermen!

For instance, why didn’t the Member for Pasir Puteh press for the suing of the Bank Rakyat’s auditors, Kassim & Chan Sdn. Bhd., for Bank Rakyat’s losses through its negligence and even conflict of interest, as one of the partners Kassim bin Sulong, took a $100,000 loan without paying interest for several years, as legally, the auditors are liable for all losses incurred because of negligent auditing? Would the Member for Pasir Puteh press for legal action to be taken against Kassim, Chan & Co. so that the Government and the public recoup the $155 million from the auditors? Is he the guardian of NEP and the public purse, or he is more interested in something else?

I am shock by Dr. Tan Tiong Hong’s speech for more reasons than one. Firstly, as I have already pointed out, for his talking about things which he knew nothing about.

Secondly, his speech appeared to be more a pledge of loyalty to the Prime Minister, Datuk Hussein Onn, and UMNO, to demonstrate that dependable and reliable component party than MCA the Gerakan is a more especially at a time when MCA leaders are quietly passing word round the country that they have issued an ultimatum to the Prime Minister to take immediate corrective action to increase non-Malay university students in the local universities or the MCA Ministers and MPs would resign and the MCA would leave the Barisan Nasional.

I remember that two days ago, in the Parliament corridor, I asked a MCA MP, whether the ‘show the MCA is staging would be as good as the Advertisement’, but like all much-advertised shows, they are invariably over-sold!

For the past fortnight, MCA officials have been telling members and the public that the MCA Central Executive Committee had sent an ultimatum to the Prime Minister that MCA Ministers and Deputy Ministers would resign their posts and MCA pull out of Barisan Nasional should the question of non-Malay university student intake not settled satisfactorily, but yesterday, the MCA President, Datuk Lee San Choon, when asked by reporters, claimed not to know anything about such ultimatum to the Prime Minister.

I mention this, just to show that inter-party or intra-party differences, especially inside the Barisan Nasional, cannot and should not be any excuse for invocation of emergency powers, as had happened in 1966 for Sarawak and 1977 for Kelantan.

Emergency Proclamations are promulgated for a specific grave emergency, and this is all the more reason why the 1966 Sarawak Proclamation and the 1977 Kelantan Proclamation should be annulled.

Dr. Tan Tiong Hong gave many reasons why the Proclamations of Emergency should continue, like for instance, the oil crisis. If this is a valid argument, then all the countries in the world -except for the oil producing countries in Middle East, Venezuela and Mexico -would have to declare a State of Emergency, for they all face the problems created by increase in oil prices.

The Member for Kepong and the Member for Kuala Kangsar also spoke of the problems created by Vietnamese refugees/illegal immigrants. If they had listened carefully to my speech yesterday they would have heard that I conceded that the Vietnamese refugee influx has created security,social and economic problems for Malaysia.

If the Government thinks that the influx of Vietnamese refugees illegal immigrants have reached such a serious proportion requiring Emergency handling, then a separate Proclamation of Emergency should be declared, for this would also serve to focus Malaysian minds and the world on the problem the Vietnamese refugees/illegal immigrants have imposed on Malaysia – and not find subterfuge in a Proclamation or Four Proclamations of Emergency which have outlived their origins.

In any event, if the UMNO and Barisan backbenchers are so concerned about the problem created by the Vietnamese refugees/illegal immigrants,why then did they sabotage the holding of an emergency debate in Parliament on the problem of the unending influx of Vietnamese refugees/illegal immigrants last week.

Last Tuesday, I secured the Speaker’s agreement that my motion to adjourn the Dewan Rakyat to debate the problem of the unending influx of Vietnamese refugees/illegal immigrants, and my proposal that the government establish a special fund with an initial allocation of $10 million to help the people of Kelantan and Trengganu adversely affected economically by the Vietnamese influx, fulfilled the three requisite conditions as being ‘a definite matter of urgent, public importance’, and there would have been an emergency parliamentary debate on this serious matter if no single MP objected.

But sad to say, the UMNO MP for Tanah Merah, Encik Hussein Mahmood, objected, ensuring that Parliament could not debate the problem of Vietnamese refugees and to establish a special fund with an initial allocation of $10 million for the fishermen and farmers of Kelantan and Trengganu who have been economically adversely affected.

Can the UMNO MP for Tanah Merah and other Barisan MPs explain why they are opposed to a debate on the Vietnamese refugees, and the proposal for a multi-million dollar government fund to help fishermen and peasants affected by the influx?

It is clear that it is the UMNO MPs, like the Member for Tanah Merah, who are playing politics with the sufferings of the people of Kelantan and Trengganu, who need government assistance in the face of the problem of the influx of Vietnamese refugees/immigrants.

I do not want to embark on a debate on the problem of Vietnamese refugees/illegal immigrants, except to say that this problem must be pursued to its source, and nothing much is going to be achieved unless Malaysia and ASEAN countries act in concert to secure international action to end Vietnam’s racism and genocide, worse than South Africa’s Apartheid Policy and reminiscent of Hilter’s ‘Final Solution’ to eliminate Jews. A more appropriate time to debate the Vietnamese refugee problem would be a special debate on the subject, but unfortunately, this had been sabotaged by the UMNO backbenchers themselves.

The Member for Kuala Kangsar also referred to the security situation in South East Asia, especially arising from the Indo-Chinese situation. Undoubtedly, Vietnam’s expansionist policy, together with Soviet Union, should make Malaysia alert and vigilant as to their moves, especially Soviet’s use of the American-built Cam Ranh Bay as a Soviet naval base with submarines of the Soviet Pacific Fleet gliding in and out; while Soviet pilots fly Vietnamese troops in Soviet Antonov-22 transport aircrafts in the Vietnamese-dominated Indo-China Confederation, but whether we have reached a position where a Proclamation of Emergency is specifically needed to deal with this regional problem is open to debate. For if we had reached this state, then we should have mobilized the country, and implemented national service to train all youths in the defence of our country.

There have been some attempts to give the picture that the annulment of Emergency Proclamations would make Malaysia defenceless. This is nonsense, which I am sure the Minister of Home Affairs and the Minister of Defence could vouch.

The annulment of Proclamations of Emergency would not leave Malaysia naked, either against external aggression or internal subversion, for as I pointed out yesterday, Article 149 of the Malaysian Constitution provides ample powers for the Government to carry out its duty to defend the integrity of the country against both external aggression or internal subversion.

What I am saying, if I can reduce it as simply as possible for the Member for Pasir Puteh to understand, is that the government is wearing the wrong pants. It should be wearing the pants of Article 149 and not the pants of Article 150.

No one has explained or justified why Malaysia needs Four Proclamations of Emergency. I hope MPs and the Government will let reason prevail over prejudice, and vote for what is right for the country and the Constitution.