DAP proposes that the Government asks the Federal Court for a binding opinion on the constitutionality of the Constitution Amendment Act 1983 as the 1984 Constitution Amendment bill

Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, in the Dewan Rakyat on Monday, 9.1.1984 on the 1984 Constitution Amendment Bill

DAP proposes that the Government asks the Federal Court for a binding opinion on the constitutionality of the Constitution Amendment Act 1983 as the 1984 Constitution Amendment bill will be equally unconstitutional if the Constitution Amendment Act 1983 is unconstitutional.

The Dewan Rakyat has been summoned to a special one-day meeting today to pass the 1984 Constitution Amendment Bill, the culmination of a four-and-a- half month constitutional crisis, to mark the victory of the principle of parliamentary supremacy and the sovereignty of the people.

As the lone voice with my other DAP parliamentary colleagues in this House in the last 14 years to champion the principle of parliamentary supremacy, where parliament has a distinct identity and/role of its own /higher from both the Executive and the Judiciary, I should be the first to welcome the Prime Minister’s belated discovery and espousal of this principle.

But with the best will in the world, my colleagues and I could not agree or accept that the recent constitutional crisis was a fight between the people vs the rulers; or a battle between the principal of Parliamentary supremacy versus the rulers’ Prerogative.

If we are to take the claim literally, then I would say that the very fact that Parliament had to be summoned into a special meeting to withdraw two of three controversial amendments which sparked of the crisis, and to amend the third contentious issues to the extent of conceding away an important principle of parliamentary democracy, represented more a setback to the principal of parliamentary supremacy than its triumph.

Parliament, in its wisdom or lack of it, had passes the Constitution Amendment Bill 1983 with the requisite two-thirds majority in both Houses in August 1983, and if the issue at stake is the principle of parliamentary supremacy, then the failure to adhere to these amendments (whatever the niceties about Parliament having the constitutional right to ??n effect further amendments) represent the failure of Parliament to assert its will.

The DAP find the claim that the constitutional crisis represented the victory of the principle of the sovereignty of the people in the Parliamentary Democracy equally misplaced, for where come the ‘will of the people’ when the people at large knew nothing about the merits or demerits of the three controversial constitutional amendments when they were adopted by both Houses of Parliament in august 1983, as the Prime Minister had directed the local mass media to black out all discussion, including parliamentary debates on the amendments until some three months later.

Is the ‘will of the people’ in the parliamentary democracy in Malaysia built on the ‘ignorance of the people’? Or is it the ??? ‘guided will’ of the people, just like ‘guided democracy’ of some other country that we are talking about?

Even now, the overwhelming majority of the people in Malaysia have been denied a full and balanced information about the constitutional crisis and the issues at stake, for they had been fed with the ‘official’ account dished out by Bernama, the Radio and television, and the local press. Instead of allowing the people to make their own minds for allowing them full or free access to all the different viewpoints on the amendments.

Even the series of illegal public rallies held by UMNO in Alor Star, Bagan Datuh, Seremban, Batu Pahat, Melacca for the Prime Minister with reports of officially inflated crowd figures did not go very far to represent the ‘will of the people’, for they merely testified to the mobilization capability of UMNO and Governmental machinery. But even this is dubious as only two days ago, the UMNO in Federal Territory had claimed that it would round up 200,000 people to welcome the Prime Minister on his first official visit to the Federal Territory, but the reporter crowd ranged 1, 12,000 to 40,000.

But did everyone of those who turned up at the illegal public rallies understood and supported the Government on the constitutional amendment issues? I have my grave doubts. In Batu Pahat for instance, I am told that when the UMNO organizers cried out the slogan ‘hidup Melayu’, many Chinese and Indians turned away for they found that they did not belong!

Many pundits and editorialists have written of the good that had come out of the constitutional crisis, For instance, it is claimed that the crisis had resulted in the constitution being widely studied and scrutinized by a large cross-section of the population and that there is a greater understanding of the Constitution now that ever before. There writers make no reference to the fact that for the first three months, there was a complete black-out of local newspaper coverage of the constitutional amendments, and that subsequently, what the Malaysian public read was a one-sided account of the constitutional crisis.


Again, it has been claimed that as a result of the constitutional crisis, the Rakyat are more aware of their rights, that there is now a new tradition of questioning the role of the constitution monarchs, and that it represented the majority prevailing over the minority.

In my view, the constitutional crisis has shown the need for our political system to enable the ‘true will of the people’ to be manifested instead of allowing the manipulation of the ’purported will’ of the people by the political rulers.

What is needed more than anything else to ensure the triumph of the will of the people is the establishment of the democratic tradition of questioning the role of the political rules, which is only possible where there is freedom of speech, expression, information, and not as at present, where such freedoms are tightly regulated, and the purported ‘will of the people’ manipulated by the power-that-be. Such a tradition must enable the people to question the Government why its practice double standards in the enforcement of laws in allowing UMNO to organize public rallies, while banning opposition parties from doing so; to question the Government why it has not allowed a full debate on the constitutional amendments to allow all point s of view to emerge to enable and intelligent judgment to be made by the citizenry; and why critics and opponents of the amendments were dubbed all sort and anti-national labels, when the Governmental itself have eventually to withdraw two of the three amendments and make a radical amendment to a third giving up an important principal which the critics had not even conceded.

When the mild criticisms of Tan Sri Dr. Tan Chee Khoon in his weekly column in the star on the constitutional crisis could elicit a fierce denunciation from the Information Minister, Adib Adam, who fancies as the custodian of the ideological purity of UMNO, then fight-thinking Malaysian must really ask the question as to what type of a parliamentary democracy, where the ‘sovereignty of the people and the will of people is supposed to be supreme’, are we having in the post-Constitutional Crisis Malaysia. Is it a parliamentary democracy where the ‘will of the people’ and the ‘sovereignty of the people’ is equated with the ‘will of UMNO’ and ‘sovereignty of UMNO’ with no room for dissenting views by the people?


I cannot speak for the proponents to the constitutional crisis, namely the UMNO leaders and the Rulers; but I believe I can safely state that for those who oppose the three controversial constitutional amendments, two reasons were pre-eminent:

Firstly, the constitutionally of the amendment to Article 66 (5) and to the Eight Schedule to provide that both at Federal and State levels, once the legislatures had passed the Bills and presented to the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong or the State Ruler for assent, the assent would be deemed to be given after fifteen days regardless of whether there was any affixing of the royal Seal.

Secondly, the accumulation and concentration of political power in the hands of Prime Minister in the amendment to Article 150 whereby the Prime Minister himself, without consulting the Cabinet, could have an Emergency Proclaimed.

The DAP and crisis of the amendments to Article 66(5) and the Eight Schedule had contented that alth9ought the royal assent could not be withheld by the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong or the state Ruler, agreeing with the government’s argument that constitutionally the Ruler has ‘no will of his own’ but must act on Cabinet advice to give Royal Assent, the Royal Assent is nonetheless a necessary and integral part of the process to perfect legislation.

Otherwise to save all the constitutional bother, Parliament might as well pass a constitutional amendment to provide that once a Bill is adopted by both Houses of Parliament, it automatically becomes law without the need of Royal Assent.

For this contention, it therefore follows that any step to remove or derogate from the need for the Royal Assent would infringe Article 38(4) which reads:

“No law directly affecting the privileges, position, honors or dignities of the Rules shall be passes without the consent of the Conference of Rules.”

This does not mean that provision on Royal Assent could not be amended, but any such amendment must comply with the constitutional requirement of first getting the consent of the Conference of Rulers, as it affects the ‘privileges, position, honours or dignities of the Rulers


The government argues that Article 159(5) only requires the consent of the conference of Rulers if amendment are made to “clause (4) of Article 10, any law passed thereunder, the provisions of Part II, Articles 38, 63(4), 70, 71(1), 72(4), 152 or 153” or to itself, i.e Article 159(5), and as Article 66(5) is not mentioned, it fcould be amended without the consent of the Conference of Rulers.

This arguement is to render Article 38(4) meaningless, for under Article 38(4), any law “directly affecting the privileges, position, honours or dignities of the Rulers” would require the prior consent of the Conference of Rulers, or it would be unconstitutional. Its life is not dependent on Article 159(5), but on its own provisions.

As examples, I would submit that although not specified in article 159(5), any amendment to Article 40(1) or 42(1) would require the consent of the Conference of Rulers by virtue of Article 38 (4) because it would affect the ‘privileges, position, honours or dignities of the rulers’.

Thus Articles 40(1) provides that the Yang Di-Pertuan agong shall be entitled, at his request to any information concerning the government of the Federation which is available to the Cabinet; while Article 42(1) provides that the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong has power to grant pardons, reprieves and respites in respect of all offences which have been tried by court-martial and all offences committed in the Federal Territory: and the State Rulers similar power in their state.

If it is proposed to amend Articles 40(1) to remove the Yang Di-Pertuan agong’s entitlement to any information concerning the government in the Federation which is available to the Cabinet; or to remove the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong and the state Rulers’ power to grant pardons reprieves and respites in their respective territories, clearly the consent of the Conference of Rulers would be needed under Articles 38(4) although not specified in Articles 159(5). Any amendment without the/consent of the/prior Conference of Rulers would be unconstitutional and null and void.


Similarly, if the amendment to Article 66(5) in the 1983 Constitutional Amendment Act is unconstitutional because it had not complied with Article 38(4), then the giving of the Royal Assent by the Timbalan Yang Di-Pertuan Agong would not give it constitutionality and legal validity. And if the 1983 Constitution Amendment Act is unconstitutional, then the present amendment to Article 66 would also be unconstitutional as no amount of subsequent amendments could cure an unconstitutional provision of it constitutionality, except by way of a completely new provision not dependent on the unconstitutional clause.

In view of this constitutional doubt, I would suggest that this Prime Minister and the Cabinet should decide to refer the constitutional point to the Federal Court under Article 1360 for a binding legal opinion, as otherwise, any future legislation stemming from the present 1984 Constitutional Amendment bill is open to challenge.

The government leaders had argued that the 15-day Royal Assent Rule was nec3esarry particularly because of the refusal by some state sultan to give the Royal assent to State legislation unless they get their way, as in removing the Menteri Besar or some other demand. It is therefore all the more strange that the Government should abandon the proposed amendments to the Eight schedule on the 15-day Royal Assent Rules for State Constitutions, relying on an ‘oral undertaking’. Parliament is entitled to know what is the nature and efficacy of such “oral undertaking’ in constitutional law?

Government leaders have conceded that no Federal Bill had been denied the Royal Assent, and as the first Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman has written, there are provisions in the Constitution to deal with any Yang Di-Pertuan agong who had misused or abused his powers. There is firstly the Conference of Rulers where five Rulers could remove Yang Di-Pertuan Agon, and there is also the provision for raising in parliament by way of substantive motion any misuse or abuse of power by the Yang Di-Pertuan agong or any State Ruler to bring public and political pressure on a recalcitrant constitutional monarch.

However, if the government is intent on amending Article 66(5) to provide for a 15-day Deemed Royal Assent Rule, then do it in a proper constitutional manner by getting the consent of the Conference of Rulers first.

I have said that the present amendment to Article 66(5) on the Royal Assent issue has conceded an important principle of parliamentary supremacy which even critics had never conceded.

Thus, under section 2 of the present Amendment Bill, the 15-day Deemed Royal Assent Rule would be replaced with new provisions in Article 66 whereby a Bill presented to the Yang Di-Pertuan Agog for his assent shall by assented by him within thirty days after it is presented to him. But in the case of a Bill which is not a money Bill, he may within such period of thirty days return such Bill to the house in which the Bill had originated with a statement of the reasons for his objection to the Bill or to any provision of the Bill.

The new clause 4b of Article 66 provide, inter alia, that where the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong does neither of these things within the specified period of thirty days, the Bill shall become law at the expiration of that period, in the like manner as if he had assented to the Bill. The New Clause 4A of the Article 66 provides that where the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong returns a Bill to the House in which it originated in accordance with Clause 4B of that Article, the House shall proceed to reconsider the Bill as soon as practicable. If after such reconsideration, the Bill is again passed by that House, with or without amendment, it shall be sent to the other House together with the objections of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. If the Bill is again passed for his assent and he shall give his assent to it within thirty days after it is presented to him. The New Clause 4B of Article 66 goes on to provide that if the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong fails to assent to such Bill within the said period of thirty days, the Bill shall become law at the expiration of that period, in the like manner as if he had assented to the Bill.

This new provision in Article 66 has given Che Yang Di-pertuan Agong, who as argued by government lawyers ‘has no will constitutionally of his own’, the unprecedented power to delay legislation by 30 days, in referring a Bill he objects back to Parliament.


The right of the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong to object to any bill, presumably for public good, must have the corollary responsibility to ensure that every Bill presented to the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong for his Royal Assent is not objectionable against public good.

This would mean that the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong, after the present amendment becomes law, would be misusing or abusing his power and responsibility if he merely acts on Cabinet advice to give his Royal Assent to every Bill presented to him, without giving individual attention to the contents of each Bill to consider whether it offends the public good and welfare; for the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong has been transformed from a constitutional monarch with no will of his own apart from acting on Cabinet advice into a constitutional Monarch with a constitutional will of his own to vet every Bill presented to him ensure he should not exercise his power to delay legislation by sending it back to Parliament for reconsideration.

Now what are the criteria whereby the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong in exercises such delaying powers? Who is to advice the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong in the exercise of such powers of delaying legislation? It is the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong himself, to study the Bills presented to him personally, in which case 30 days would not be adequate for the bundle of Bills which are passed by each Parliamentary meeting to complete such study and investigation. Or is the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong to be advised by a special body of persons. Is this the Cabinet, as provided by Clause 1 of Article 40 of the Constitution which provides that “In the exercise of his function under this Constitution or Federal Law, the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong shall act in accordance with the advice of the Cabinet or of a Minister acting under the general authority of the Cabinet, except otherwise provided by this Constitution’.

If the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong is to exercise his power to delay legislation by sending it back to Parliament for reconsideration acting on the advice of the Cabinet, it would make utter nonsense of the new provision, for clearly it would mean that the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong has no ‘constitutional will’ of his own, and must act on the advice of the Cabinet which clearly would not advise the exercise of the power to delay legislation as it is the Cabinet which had initiated the legislation in the first place.

If the new power to delay legislation on the part of the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong is to be exercised on the advice of a separate body of persons, who are these persons, what is their constitutional position, and who is going to pay for them, appoint them or dismiss them?

The new amendments to Article 66 as embodied in Section 2 of the 1984 Constitution Amendment Bill therefore highly objectionable on two grounds:

  1. It is major concession and decoration from the principle of parliamentary supremacy and constitutional monarchy of his own to delay or influence Parliament in the legislative process, but merely to perfect the legislative process by giving his Royal Assent as advised by Cabinet and
  2. The whole provision has be in poorly conceived and formulated, and make nonsense of the system of parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy the attempt to impose/result political compromise/which is completely at variance with the / of an principle of parliamentary supremacy and constitutional monarchy, whereby Parliament and Parliament alone decides what should be legislated.

We are all aware that in the Malaysian Constitution, there is a group of constitutional provisions which could not be amended by a mere two-thirds majority, but required the consent of the Conference of Rules as well. But this does not detract from the principle of parliamentary supremacy is a strict constitutionalist provision. But nowhere had the Malaysian Constitution ever provided the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong with the powers to override Parliament, even for a period of 30 days.

The DAP therefore cannot support the amendment to Article 66 in the present Constitution Amendment Bill because, firstly, it is of doubtful constitutionality as it springs from the 1983 Constitution Amendment Act which itself unconstitutional; and secondly, because it undermines the principle of parliamentary principal supremacy and constitutional monarchy.

The DAP was charged of pretending to be Royalist when we opposed the amendment to Article 66 in the 1983 Constitution Amendment Bill in August 1983 on constitutional grounds; and we are likely to be charged of being ‘Anti-Royalists’ this time for opposing the 1984 Constitution Amendment Bill on Article 66 amendment on both constitutional and democratic grounds.

We in the DAP had been used to irresponsible by the Government front-benchers, but we are satisfied that the Malaysian public and history would understand that we are taking our stand on both constitutional amendments in the interest of fostering the tradition of constitution government and democratic principles, and not for the sake of supporting or opposing any particular group or people.

I know that some Barisan leaders, including the Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Dr Goh Cheng Teik, had been going around saying that as a result of the DAP’s stand on the 1983 Constitution Amendment Bill, I would be conferred various Datukships by the various Sultans in the coming year. By their logic, I would be losing all these so-called Datukships allegedly coming my way for our stand in opposing the 1984 Constitution Amendment Bill giving the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong / opposing the new and unprecedented power to delay Parliamentary legislation.

As Parliamentarians, regardless of party, we are the custodians of the Constitution land the principle and system of parliamentary democracy. We must be prepared to stand up and point out what is unconstitutional and what is detrimental to the principle of parliamentary supremacy, and it is on both these grounds that we regard the 1984 Constitution Amendment Bill as an atrocious piece of constitution-making. It fully bears out the comment by a authority on the Malaysian constitution that “a Predominant characteristic of the process of constitutional change (in the last two decades in Malaysia) is the lack of notice given for mature deliberation of constitutional change”. This comment was made by H.P.Lee in this survey of the process of constitutional change in Malaysia in the book ‘the constitutional Malaysia: its Development 157-1977” which he co-edited with Tun Mohamed Suffian and F.A.Arindade.


It highlights the need for a through and wide-ranging review of the Malaysian constitution after 27 years of operation and extensive amendments, sometimes at the briefest notice and with little time for Parliamentary study and debate. I am glad that the first Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tunku Abdul Rahman, is also of the view that there should be each of review of the Constitution and I hope that the Government would agree to this proposal to ensure that the Malaysian Constitution conform more closely with the ‘will of the people’ as distinct from the ‘will of the UMNO leadership’.

I hope that the Barisan leaders would desist from typing to score political points and distorting the issues at stake. For instance, the three controversial as a restoration of the people’s power from the Rulers. If this is indeed the case, then all those who voted for the three constitutional amendments in 1983 should vote against the 1984 Constitution Amendment Bill, for two of these three amendments are being withdrawn and one being amended in a way as to undermine the principle of parliamentary supremacy.

If the DAP wants to score cheap political points, then we can claim that to more far-sighted than the Barisan Nasional government, for our objections to the three constitutional amendments have proved right, for two are being withdrawn and one amended drastically.

Article 150

This brings me to the third constitutional amendment, namely to Article 150, to repeal the 1983 Constitution Amendment act provision vesting the full powers of having an Emergency proclaimed on the Prime Minister even without having to consult the cabinet.

Although we are returning to the pre-1983 Constitution Amendment Bill provision for Article 150, this is not satisfactory enough.
This is because article 150 had been grossly abused by the Government so that a State of Emergency has become perpetual in Malaysia and used to effect far-reaching authoritarian changes in the ordinary legal norms.

Although we in the DAP had questioned many tines in Parliament, so far no one in the Barisan Nasional Government had been able to answer as to why Malaysian should be in a state of not only permanent Emergency, but be under four Proclamations of Emergency although the conditions which given rise their promulgation had long ceased to exist, namely;

  1. The Proclamation of Emergency dated 3rd September 1964 arising from Indonesian Confrontation;
  2. The proclamation of Emergency dated 14th September 1966 applicable only to Sarawak arising from the overthrow of SNAP chief Minister Stephen Kalong Ningkan;
  3. The proclamation of Emergency dated 15th May 1969 arising from the May 13, 1969 riots; and
  4. The proclamation of Emergency dated 8th November 1977 arising from the otherthrow of the PAS Government in Kelantan.

A recent international study by the International Commission of Jurists on the ‘States of Emergency’ in 15 countries, including Malaysia, and their impact on human rights, had highlights the need for safeguards against the abuse of emergency powers.

The original Merdeka Constitution of 1957 provided equate safeguards against abuses of emergency powers, but we had over the last 27 years dismantled and discarded all these safeguards and given even greater powers to the Executive which are liable to gross abuse.
Thus, Article 150 in the original Merdeka Constitution in 1957 states:

A proclamation of Emergency and any ordinance promulgated under Clause (2) shall be laid before both Houses of Parliament and, if not sooner revoked. Shall cease to be in force
(a) A proclamation at the expiration of a period of it was issues; two months beginning with the date on which it was issued;
(b) An ordinance at the expiration of a period of fifteen days beginning with the date on which both Houses are first sitting,
Unless, before the expiration of that period, it has been approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament.

But this two-month life-span for Proclamations of Emergency Rules renewed by Parliament, which requires Parliament to address its mind to the continued justification of the Proclamations and the ordinances, was amended by Act 10 of 1960 to allow Proclamations of Emergency to last for eternity- as our Proclamations of Emergency seem to do.

On June 28, I moved a motion asking the House to annul all the Four Proclamations of Emergency in the country as the conditions giving rise to their promulgation have ceased to exist, but this was vehemently rejected by the Government.

In January 1979, the constitution was amended to make Proclamations of Emergency unchallengeable in a Court of Law, even though a Proclamations may have been issued mala file, or the conditions for which a Proclamations of emergency was promulgate to deal with had long ceased to exist.

In May 1981, the Constitution was amended to confer even greater powers on the Executive. Whereas a Proclamation a Emergency could be at that time promulgated if the Government is ‘satisfies that a grave emergency exists whereby the security or economic life of the Federation or any part thereof is threatened, the Constitution was amended to empower the Proclamation of Emergency before the actual occurs of the event which threatens the security, or the economic life, or public order of the Federation or any part thereof if the Government is satisfied there is imminent danger of the occurrence of such event.

The usurpation of all safeguards by both the Legislature and the Judiciary against the abuse of emergency powers by the Executive is now complete.

A review of the Constitution should include a review of the exercise of the emergency powers under Article 150 and formulation of safeguards the International Commission of Jurists on domestic constitutional safeguards against abuse of emergency powers should deserve our study.

These are the principles which the ICJ recommends should be among constitutional safeguards against or emergency powers:

  1. The effects of states of emergency on the rights of citizens and the powers of the various branches of government should be clearly spelled out. The Malaysian Constitution, providing that emergency legislation can be inconsistent with any provision of the constitution except those concerning religion, citizenship and language has over given as an example of a constitution wholly inadequate in the regard.
  2. The Constitution should enumerate and define the situations which justify departure from the normal order. Various types of emergencies should be distinguished an economic crisis may not call for the same emergency powers as civil disorders. It is important to distinguish between war with a foreign enemy and domestic disturbances. In an internal disturbance, there is no enemy to destroy, but an order to restore. The security problem posed by war or the threat of war and those posed by domestic disturbances are quite distant and the law should take into account these differences. The legal power needed to face various types of emergencies are different and much of the value of defining the effects of states of emergency in advance is lost if all threats to the nation are recorded identical treatment.
  3. The procedure for declaring a state of emergency should be constitutionally defined, giving primary responsibility to the legislature. As there is a tendency to use states of emergency for political purposes, e.g. to repress a part of the population, to impose policies which do not enjoy popular support, or to defend an unpopular government’s hold on power, a state of Emergency just not be continued unless there is a broad consensus in flavor of it.
  4. The duration of states of emergency should be specified with rare exceptions, threats to the life of the nation are inherently of limited duration. It is universally admitted that, to justify departure from he normal legal order, a treat must have an appreciable degree of immediacy and substance.

    Review of the need for emergency measures must thus occur at regular intervals. The best method for assuring this is to provide that no declaration of emergency shall have legal force for longer than a fixed period of time, which should not exceed six months.

    Failure to review the need for emergency measures may encourage use of emergency measures after they are no longer strictly required because rule by emergency measures is more ‘convenient’ than respect for the rights of individual s and normal processes of law.

  5. Preservation of the independence and powers of the judiciary to check abuses and misuse of emergency powers.
    State Constituencies


I notice that apart from repealing Article 150 and Eight Schedule amendments in the 1983 Constitution Amendment Act, there is a completely new amendment to the English Schedule whereby State Legislative Assemblies may determine the number of elected State Legislative Assembly seats in each State without having to be a multiple of the number of Federal Constituencies into which the State is divided as presently provided.

This amendment must have brought about because the Penang State assembly proceeded to increase the number of State Assembly sees based on the assumption of a proportionate license of Parliamentary seats by the Parliament. But although the Penang State Assembly had already increased the number of States Assembly seats, Parliament increase or its Parliamentary seats was at one time uncertain no to whether to become law because of the constitutional crisis.

I would want to know whether the prime Minister had consulted the various State government and the state Legislatures on this amendment which would affect them as it would appear to be wrong in principle to introduce changes to State Constitutions without prior consultation the relevant State Authorities.


In conclusion, I wish to express my party’s concern at the way the UMNO leadership had handled the constitutional crisis, in its resort to extra-constitutional and even illegal measure like illegal public calling to achieve their political purposes. I am also very concerned at the campaign of witch-hunt that the UMNOI leaders seemed to be embarking on, as in the allegation by the Information Minister yesterday of an attempt by critics of the Constitutional amendments to ‘topple the Government and the Prime Minister’.

We in the DAP will give the government full support in any action to uphold the principle of parliamentary supremacy and parliamentary government, and but we cannot be a party to any unconstitutional action. In fact, we are very concerned at the various steps that are being taken to deny the people their Constitutional rights not only by way of Constitutional amendments, but by administrative action, and we would not hesitate to blow the whistle to draw the attention of the nation to any un Constitutional or authoritarian action.

We would support the Government if it wants the entire parliamentary form of government to set the example of efficiency and competence, as in amending Article 66(5_ to provide that a Bill presented to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong for his Royal Assent shall be signed within 15 days of such presentation, as we hold steadfast to the parliamentary principle that the Constitutional Monarch has no ‘constitutional will of his own‘ in the matter of Royal Assent, and cannot withhold it.

But there must be proper ‘leadership by example‘ all down the line manifesting a degree of efficiency and competence which is sorely lacking in the Malaysian parliamentary system, as in the inability of the Government to give advance notice of the 1984 Constitution Amendment Bill to MPs for adequate study and deliberation.

We in the DAP welcome a more questioning Malaysian attitude on the role of the monarchy, as we expect our constitutional monarchy to act responsibly to be the symbol of national unity, and where there would be no abuse or misuse of power or trust vested in them.

But again, this must be applied to all those who hold public office and public trust, and here, the failure of the Government to come out clean on its continued unpreparedness to hold a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the $2,500 million Bumiputra Malaysia Finance Scandal had not strengthened the case of the Government leaders.

The DAP has previously contended that the 1975 Essential (Security Cases) (Amendment) Regulations was unconstitutional and void, and although this stand was unpopular and attracted a lot of name-callings by the government benches, the DAP was proved right in the Privy Council judgement in Teh Cheng Poh alias Chan Meh v. The Public Prosecutor in 1979.

Time will tell whether the DAP’s contention that the 1983 Constitution Amendment Act on the amendments to Article 66, is unconstitutional and consequently the 1984 Constitution Amendment Bill, is unconstitutional and is uphold by the Courts. But it is a sad commentary on the state of constitution-making in Malaysia that the Government is not prepared to clear up those doubts before effecting further amendments.