Now irresponsible could a Gerakan Minister be?

by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Wednesday, 26th March 1986:

Now irresponsible could a Gerakan Minister be?

On Sunday, Gerakan President, Datuk Dr. Lim Keng Yaik, said in Malacca that Gerakan MPs would seek to clarify the meaning of the words “official” and “secrets” on the proposed amendment to the Official Secrets Act next month in Parliament when the Official Secrets Act Amendment Bill would be tabled for adoption.

Dr. Lim said the two words have a very wide terminology and they could be interpreted by those in power to victimise those concerned.

I find Dr. Lim Keng Yaik’s remarks most shocking, to say the least. Of course, Dr. Lim wanted to give the impression that he is concerned about the Official Secrets Act amendment Bill, as it had attracted widespread opposition from all thinking organisations and individuals. The Bill will make it a mandatory minimum one-year jail sentence for any offence under the Act, whether the offender had committed a technical offence, or whether it is to protect national interest to expose corruption, abuse of power or negligence; or whether it is out of treasonous motives to betray the country for monetary gain.

Dr. Lim Keng Yaik appears to have forgotten that apart from Gerakan MPs, the Gerakan has also a Minister in Cabinet in the person of Datuk Paul Leong, the Minister for Primary Industries.

Before any Bill is presented to Parliament, the cabinet must give its approval first. Why didn’t Datuk Paul Leong, on behalf of Gerakan, demand that the meaning of ‘official’ and ‘secret’ are clearly defined so as not to pose a threat to parliamentary democracy and press freedom?

I want to ask Dr. Lim how irresponsible a Gerakan Minister could be?

In fact, there should be no need for Gerakan MPs to ask for clarification of the meaning of the words “official” and “secret” in Parliament. All they need to do is to meet Datuk Paul Leong for clarification, as on the principle of collective Ministerial responsibility, the Gerakan Minister is fully responsible for the Official Secrets Act Amendment Bill.

Or is Dr. Lim Keng Yaik suggesting that Datuk Paul Leong is unaware of the meaniing of “official” and “secrets” in the OSA?

Let me remind Dr. Lim Keng Yaik that the Gerakan has a Deputy Minister, Dr. Goh Cheng Teik, and a Parliamentary Secretary, Au Howe Cheong, who are members of the Government. Are both of them ‘ignorant’ of the meaning of these two words in the Official Secrets Act?

Would Gerakan agree and support DAP’s proposal to refer the Official Secrets Act Amendment Bill to Select Committee?

If Datuk Dr. Lim Keng Yaik is really sincere in being concerned about the Official Secrets Act Amendment Bill, is he prepared to openly declare Gerakan’s agreement and support for the DAP’s proposal to refer the Bill to Select Committee to have the benefit of public representations?
Datuk Dr. Lim Keng Yaik should be prepared to make a public stand on this issue within 24 hours, instead of getting approval and ‘green light’ from UMNO leaders to give him permission to give the people the impression that Gerakan dare to question UMNO leaders’ motives?

Datuk Dr. Lim Keng Yaik should not forget that if the Official Secrets Act Amendment Bill becomes law, the Gerakan must also accept full responsibility for writing the most pernicious and draconian anti-information law onto the statute books in Malaysia. Or will Dr. Lim suggest that the MCA must bear responsibility, but not Gerakan?

UMNO’s Sabah Formula

There has been considerable speculation about details of UMNO’s Sabah formula to end the political crisis in the State.

Many Sabahans have phoned me to express their concern as to the details of the Sabah Formula.

Although the Sabah Formula details has not been officially announced, it is clear that it must deal with the following points:

Firstly: Sabah State General Elections – There is very strong speculation that there would reconvene the Sabah State Assembly and that there would be no need for the holding of Sabah State General Elections. I find this suggestion most shocking to say the least. As the Sabah State Assembly had been dissolved by the Sabah Chief Minister, and the Elections Commission had acted on the dissolution although it had not yet fixed the dates for elections, this process cannot be unwound and nullified by political agreement without attacking the integrity of the Federal and Sabah Constitution, and even the Rule of Law in the country.

Sabah and Malaysia will become the laughing stock in the world as the only country in the world where a dissolution of the legislature could e disregarded on the agreement of the contending political parties.

Any formula for the ending of the political crisis in the State should not be at the expense of constitutional and legal integrity and propriety – for it could only lead to a new Constitutional crisis, as it will be open to anyone to go to court to challenge the legality and constitutionality of a political agreement of PBS, USNO and Berjaya to refuse to recognise the ‘dissolution’ of Assembly.

The Elections Commission, which is meeting today, should without any more delay fix the dates for the Nomination and Polling for Sabah state general elections, or the Commission would be acting irresponsibly in pursuing its Constitutional duties.

After the year-long turmoil in Sabah, the Sabah state general elections offers the opportunity for the people to start the political process on a new slate – for I am sure the many political opportunists who had shown their true colours should not be allowed to escape the ‘verdict’ and ‘judgment’ of the voters!

Secondly, Political leaders and elected representatives, whether MP or Assemblymen, who in the ten-day campaign of fear, unrest and violence, through illegal demonstration, bomb explosions, arson and rioting, had committed serious criminal offences of
(i) rioting;
(ii) sedition;
(iii)offences against the state, namely treason, in using or showing force to attempt to topple the elected system of Sabah state government by unconstitutional means;
(iv) criminal conspiracy to commit all these offences’
Must be arrested and prosecuted, as a lesson to all – whether in Sabah or in Malaysia – that nobody, whatever his political position, would be allowed to break the law to fulfil his political ambitions.

Malaysia’s law and Constitution will again be the laughing stock of the world if such grave criminal offences, causing five deaths, many injured, some $10 million property destroyed, could be ‘politically settled’. I call on the Attorney-General, Tan Sri Abu Talib Othman, to ensure that the integrity of law and his office is not compromised – or he should defend his office by resigning in protest.

I find it very significant that the spate of demonstrations, bomb explosions, arson and rioting had stopped (except for Tawau which is probably the result of breakdown in communication), which point clearly to the planned and organised nature of the last ten days campaign of fear, unrest and violence.

3. Constitutional amendment to forbid defection of Assemblymen
As defections is the main cause for political instability, giving ground for the ‘buying and selling of Assemblyman’ which was worth $2 million per Assemblyman recently, the Sabah Constitution should be amended to forbid defection and requiring the Assemblyman who defects to another party to vacate his seat causing a by-election to be held. The Federal Constitution should be similarly amended to cleanse Malaysian politics of the opportunism and corruption by money temptations.

4. Illegal Filipino immigrants
The role played by the illegal Filipino immigrants in Sabah in the last ten days of organised agitation of fear, unrest and violence has shown clearly the danger of such a large body of illegal Filipino immigrants, who could deny Malaysians their right to determine their own political future.

The three parties of PBS, Berjaya and USNO should agree to the total repatriation of Filipino immigrants, whether with or without work permits. Sabahans must be prepared to return to the 1960s, where there were no Filipino refugees or illegal Filipino immigrants, or armed Moros.