by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Tuesday, Oct . 29, 1985:
Call on Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed to jive an assurance that the Barisan Nasional Federal Government would not invoke emergency powers to achieve its political objectives in Sabah.
The Sabah political and constitutional crisis has taken on new dimensions, but it has not reached a stage of a constitutional stalemate where the PBS Sabah State government could not continue with its responsibility of governing the State.
Yesterday’s Sabah State Assembly incident showed that the Sabah Chief Minister and his government could not be assured of a two-thirds majority to enable it to amend the Sabah State Constitution, but they have very substantial simple majority to rule the state.
I had in fact last Friday warned that as the PBS Government has exactly 36 Assemblymen for the two-thirds majority to enable it to amend the Sabah State Constitution, but they have very substantial simple majority to rule the state.
I had in fact last Friday warned that as the PBS Government has exactly 36 Assemblymen for the two-thirds majority, it needed only one PBS Assemblyman to be absent from the Assembly to frustrate the constitutional amendments intended by the Sabah Chief Minister. Events have proved me right.
The Sabah High Court injunction restraining the Sabah Yang di-Pertuan Negeri, Tun Haji Mohamed Adnan Robert, from giving assent to any Bill pertaining to the State Constitution that is passed by the Assembly before Nov. 6 has made legal and constitutional history in Malaysian, and carries within it the seeds of a unprecedented conflict between the Legislature and the Judiciary.
Article 72 of the Federal Constitutions stipulates:
“72(1) The validity of any proceedings in the Legislative Assembly of any State shall not be questioned in any Court.
(2) No person shall be liable to any proceedings in any court in respect of anything said or any vote given by him when taking part in proceedings of the Legislative Assembly of any State or of any committee there.
(3) No person shall be liable to any proceedings in any court in respect of anything published by or under the authority of the Legislative Assembly of any State.”
72(2) is qualified to remove protection of immunity to any Assemblyman who commit sedition by questioning anyone of the entrenched ‘sensitive’ issues.
As Article 72 provides that the validity of any Legislative Assembly proceedings could not be questioned in any Court, the question arises whether the will and sovereignty of the Legislative Assembly could be frustrated by the indirect manner of restraining the Yang di Pertua Negeri from giving assent to the Bills enacted in the Assembly?
Although yesterday’s Sabah State Assembly did not go through with any amendments to the Sabah Constitution, the same principle applies to ordinary Bills as well. Only Datuk Joseph Pairin Kitingan’s appointment as Chief Minister is being challenged, not the legality of the Sabah Assembly of its right to pass Bills in accordance with the provisions in the Sabah Constitution and the Assembly Standing Orders.
One can visualise a scenario where at an Assembly meeting, there is no Chief Minister either he resigns or for whatever other reason. There is nothing to stop the Assembly with the requisite majority to pass laws or even to adopt motions whose legality cannot be questioned in the Courts!
The new dimensions of the Sabah political and constitutional crisis, however, does not amount to a constitutional stalemate whereby all governmental processes are jammed. This is why I advised the Sabah Chief Minister that the dissolution of the Sabah Assembly to call for fresh general elections is not an answer to the Sabah political and constitutional crisis.
For the principle of parliamentary democracy and the sovereign will of the people, as well as to defend the integrity of the Sabah State Constitution, Datuk Joseph Pairin Kitingan has no choice but to accept the challenge to see through the constitutional challenge to their final logical end –so that the will of the people would triumph.
I would call on the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed to give an assurance that the Barisan Nasional Federal Government would not invoke emergency powers to achieve its political objectives in Sabah.
There may be those who are hoping that what they could not achieve in te April 1985 Sabah State general elections they hope to achieve through a Federal proclamation of emergency in Sabah.
The Prime Minister must dispel all such ideas and pledge the Federal Government’s respect for the will of the people of Sabah as expressed through the ballot box in April general elections.