Press Conference Statement by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, in Malacca on Wednesday, 29.8.1984 at 11 a.m
DAP calls on Election Commission to reject the so-called ‘resignation’ letter of Sabah Assemblyman for Tambunan, Datuk Joseph Pairin Kitingan, as unlawful, null and void and of no effect
Datuk Harris’s abuse and arrogance of power as Sabah Chief Minister is becoming more and more unrestrained and detrimental to the healthy growth of parliamentary democracy and the principle of rule of laws.
The latest instance concerns the so-called ‘resignation’ of the Sabah Assemblyman for Tambunan, Datuk Joseph Pairin Kitingan, formerly Berjaya vice president and Sabah State Minister.
The Sabah State Assembly Speaker, Tan Sri Haji Sunoh Marso, announced on Sunday that he had received Datuk Kitingan’s resignation letter after returning from a visit to Indonesia.
It is strange that the Sabah State Assembly Speaker should make such an important announcement on a Sunday, which is a weekend holiday in Sabah. This strengthens the conclusion that the Sabah State Assembly Speaker is not acting as independent Speaker, but at the direction of the Sabah Chief Minister, Datuk Harris Salleh.
I met Datuk Kitingan at the Subang International Airport early yesterday morning, when he was taking a flight to Kota Kinabalu while I was flying to Penang. He told me that he did not resign of his own free will.
He had like other Berjaya candidates on nomination the last general elections signed undated letters of resignation to the Datuk Harris Salleh.
The courts have decided that such unsigned letters of resignation are illegal, unlawful and of no effect. In September 1981, the Kuching High Court, ruled that it is illegal for a political party to have a ‘contract’ with a member who is an MP or an Assemblyman to resign his seat if he leaves the Party.
The judge, Mr. Justice Haji Wan Mohamed, said such a contract was illegal as it was against public policy, for to recognise such an arrangement would amount to ‘degradation of the august house which is the foundation of democracy in the country’.
In that suit, the former SUPP MP for Bau-Lundu, Sinyum anak, sued the SUPP Chairman, Tan Sri Ong Kee Hui, for loss of parliamentary allowances from the date his undated letter of resignation was sent into Parliament, and he was awarded damages of over $41,000.
In Datuk Kitingan’s case, Datuk Kitingan had on August 16 handed his letter to the Sabah Assembly assistant clerk rescinding his undated letter of resignation in the hands of Datuk Harris Salleh, but this was clearly disregarded by the Sabah Assembly Speaker on the directive of Datuk Harris Salleh. The Sabah Assembly Speaker had acted not only unlawfully, but in bad faith, explaining his unusual announcement on a Sunday.
I call on the Elections Commission to reject the so-called ‘resignation’ letter of Sabah State Assemblyman for Tambunan, Datuk Joseph Pairin Kitingan, as unlawful, null and void and of no effect.
I had in fact advised Datuk Joseph Pairin to challenge the legality of his forced resignation, and if he wanted to have a by-election to prove his popularity, he could resign after establishing the principle of the illegality of Datuk Harris’ act and the Speaker’s bad faith and total lack of independence.