Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, at the Kuala Pilah DAP Branch Anniversary Dinner held at Kuala Pilah, Negeri Sembilan on Saturday, July 21, 1984 at 8p.m.
DAP suggests that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong uses his new constitutional powers to remit the 1984 Civil Law Amendment Bill back to Dewan Rakyat for reconsideration.
The Civil Law Amendment Bill 1984, which has rushed through the Dewan Rakyat last Wednesday with indecent haste, giving inadequate time for Memebers of Parliament to fully study and understand the implications of the Bill, has understandably aroused considerable anxieties and misgivings.
On matters affecting the rights of all Malaysians, as in court awards for personal injuries, including those resulting in death, the Government should have given MPs full opportunity to study and understand the implications of the Bill, which must include adequate time for MPs to get feedback of public reactions to the Bill from interested organisations and Members of the public.
This is not the case, and I dare say without fear of contradiction that the overwhelming majority of the MPs in the Dewan Rakyat do not have a clue as to the import of the Civil Law Amendment Bill 19874 which they passed in the Dewan Rakyat three days ago. The Barisan Nasional MPsjust blindly voted to pass the Bill because the Barisan Whip orders so.
There is no justification whatsoever for the Government to deny time to MPs to study and consult expert opinion on the implications of a Bill which it had taken months, and sometimes years, to draft. Furthermore, there is no justification whatsoever for the Government’s failure to consult the Bar Council and other interested organisations on the Civil Law Amendment Bill 1984 before presenting to the House.
The Civil Law Amendment Bill have the following main features which are objectionable:
1. The fixing of a ceiling on the working life of a person, to the extent that if a deceased is 55 years or older, no damages shall be awarded for future loss of earnings. In such cases, cynics would say that it would be cheaper in accidents involving those 55 and above to kill them than to injure them!
2. The limiting of the number of years purchase to 16;
3. failure to provide a transitional period to allow a person to make claims;
4. The removal of a person’s estate to claim damages for bereavement, as this claim, which is limited to $10,000, can only be made by the deceased’s spouse or by his parents if the decease is a minor.
The greatest beneficiaries of the Civil Law Amendment Bill would be the wealthy insurance companies, while the ordinary rakyat would be deprived of protection in cases of personal injuries to see them or their dependants through the rest of their lives.
Although the insurance companies would be the greatest beneficiaries, the insurance companies have been prompt in declaring that they do not propose to reduce insurance premiums, so that they would benefit on both count: from reduction compensation in awards, and in maintaining the presents insurance premiums.
The Civil Law Amendment Bill is a ill-considered piece of legislation which is against all principles of social justice.
The DAP suggest that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong uses his new constitutional powers under the new Clauses 4A and 4B of Article 66 of the Constitution to remit the Civil Law Amendment Bill back to Dewan Rakyat for reconsideration, so that MPs would have the opportunity to study the Bill’s implications in greater depth, as well as time to receive the views of the Bar Council 0and other interested organisations and individuals, in fully conformity with the spirit of parliamentary democracy.
Clauses 4A and 4B of Article 66 of the Malaysian Constitution, which was the compromise solution for the Constitutional crisis last year, provides that a Bill presented to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong for this Royal Assent shall be Assented to by him within thirty days, but the Yang di-Pertuan Agong may within the 30 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 DAP is of the view that the Civil Law Amendment Bill is a suitable case for exercise of the remittal powers of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, as the manner of the Bill’s presentation without giving MPs and all interested parties the chance to study and reflect its import, has grossly detracted from the whole spirit and substance of parliamentary democracy we profess to practise.