By Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, in Malacca on Wednesday, 30th Oct. 1985:
Pairin should cancel another special Sabah Assembly sitting on Monday to disqualify USNO Assemblymen so as not to fail into the trap of escalating Sabah political crisis to justify pressure for invoking emergency powers by the Federal Government
The PBS Sabah Chief Minister, Datuk Joseph Pairin Kitingan, has convened another special sitting of the Sabah State Assembly on Monday to discuss a resolution that seats occupied to USNO Assemblymen be vacated for their failure to attend three consecutive sittings.
I would advise Datuk Pairin to cancel Monday’s special sitting to disqualify USNO Assemblymen. He must not fall into the ‘trap’ of escalating the Sabah political and constitutional crisis to a pitch which would justify pressures for Federal government intervention by way of suspending the Sabah State Government and Assembly through the Proclamation of Emergency.
The PBS Chief Minister and State Governemnt must be aware that there are USNO and Berjaya forces which are working to create conditions to justify the invocation of emergency powers by the Federal Government, and the last thing the PBS Government should do is to unwittingly help them by escalating the political crisis.
I foresee that the special Sabah Assembly sitting on Monday to disqualify the USNO Assemblymen may set in train a chain of political, legal and constitutions 1 event which would create the conditions which the PBS Government should be doing their utmost to avoid!
The temptation of the PBS leadership to embark on a ‘tit-for-tat’ to retaliate against the USNO challenge to the legality of Datuk Pairin’s Chief Ministership is understandable. However, as the PBS Government has a very substantial and comfortable majority (although just short of two-third majority because of the likely defection of the Assemblymen for Merotai Ghapur Balleh), its priorities must be very different from that of USMO.
The PBS government’s highest priority must be to get on with the task of governing the state unless declared unlawful by the Courts, and to avoid being trapped into a vicious cycle of escalating the political and constitutional crisis to justify pressure for Federal Government invocation of emergency powers.
Far from horrifying the USMO, the PBS intention to disqualify the USNO Assemblymen may be the very action which USNO had been looking for since the April general elections to achieve the full escalation of the Sabah political crisis, and would be secretly welcomed by the USNO and even Berjaya leadership!
Datuk Pairin must not lose sight of the fact that his government has a very substantial and comfortable majority to enable it to govern, pass Bills excepts to amend the Sabah Constitution, and he should not be locked by the USNO challenge to react as if the PBS government would collapse any minute.
What Datuk Pairin should do is defuse the escalation of the Sabah political and constitutional crisis by:
Making policy announcement that he has no intention to seek the dissolution of the Sabah Assembly to call for fresh general elections;
Get on with the task of governing Sabah and fulfill PBS election pledge, particularly with regard to ridding the state of corruption as by investigating into the corrupt practices of the two previous governments, and to solve the problem of Filipino refugees and illegal Indonesian immigrants;
Let the constitutional challenge by Tun Mustapha on the legality of his Chief Ministership take its due process in the courts; and
Assuring a firm hold on the 35 PBS Assemblymen, so that even if the worst happens with court victory for Tun Mustapha, PBS still command the overwhelming Assembly majority which will make it impossible for Tun Mustapha to form any State Government.
However, I believe that it is still possible for Datuk Joseph Pairin through the political process, without awaiting court proceedings or dissolving the State Assembly, for the PBS to demolish Tun Mustapha’s challenge to the legality of his appointment as Chief Minister.
The political process cannot be so defective that there is no way to cure any doubt about the legality of the appointment of Datuk Joseph Pairin as the Sabah Chief Minister, without dissolving the State Assembly.