by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, in Malacca on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 1985:
Proposal to Pairin as to how to resolve once and for all Tun Mustapha’s challenge of the legality of his appointment as Chief Minister
I will be sending my proposal to Datuk Joseph Pairin Kitingan as to how to resolve once and for all Tun Mustapha’s challenge of the legality of his appointment as Chief Minister, which is the root cause of the latest eruption of the political and constitutional crisis in Sabah.
Although PBS had a substantial and very comfortable majority in the Sabah Assembly (only one short of a two-third majority), Tun Mustapha’s suit challenging the validity of Pairin’s appointment as Sabah Chief Minister triggered off the latest chain of political, legal and constitutional developments.
This is because Tun Mustapha’s suit has been set down for hearing on Nov.18, and every party was preparing for the possible eventualities of the outcome of the hearing.
It is clear that the PBS government had been thinking of two options in face of Tun Mustapha’s challenge in the courts to the legality of Joseph Pairin’s appointment as Sabah Chief Minister.
The two options, assuming the possibility of an adverse court outcome at the Sabah High Court level, are:
1. Amendment of the Sabah Constitution to provide that Assemblymen who resign from their parties would have to vacate their seats to ensure that Tun Mustapha, even if he should win a technical victory in the Sabah High Court, would not have the practical majority to form a State Government; and
2. Dissolution of State Assembly to call for fresh general elections to start all over again.
The third option is to be coerced into forming a coalition with USNO and Berjaya to buy off the challenge to Pairin’s appointment as Sabah Chief Minister.
The original ill-advised intention to disqualify the USNO Assemblymen for absent from the Assembly for three consecutive sittings was motivated by the first scenario, to make it impossible for Tun Mustapha to have an Assembly majority to form any State Government.
In view of the very substantial and comfortable majority enjoyed by PBS in the Assembly, there is no need for Pairin to think of the first option, unless he is so unsure of the loyalty of his Assemblymen and expect them to defect, not in ones or twos, but in droves, should there be an adverse outcome of Tun Mustapha’s case at the Sabah High Court.
The option of dissolution of the State Assembly, when Pairin had such a huge majority, is also unthinkable.
I have an alternative solution to resolve the political and constitutional crisis arising from the doubt over the legality of the Chief Minister’s appointment without having to depend on the outcome of Tun Mustapha’s suit, or to think of dissolution and to call for general elections, or be intimidated into forming a coalition with USNO and Berjaya to resolve the crisis.
My proposal will be to use the political process to cure whatever doubt there may be over the legality of Pairin’s appointment as the Chief Minister, without resorting to any one of the three options being considered: namely awaiting the outcome of Tun Mustapha’s suit, or dissolving State Assembly to call for fresh elections; or be forced into a coalition with USNO and Berjaya.
Whether Pairin finds my proposal acceptable or not, it is up to him to decide. I believe that it would remove the root cause of the present protracted political and constitutional crisis in Sabah which threaten immediate PBS Assembly instability, by allowing the PBS Government to assert its unquestioned right to govern Sabah without undemocratic attempts to topple it.