Press Conference Statement (2) by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary- General, MP for Tanjung and Assemblyman for Kampong Kolam, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Thursday, Sept 25.9.1986:
Tan Koon Swan and Barisan leaders must take a courageous moral decision that for Parliament and the nation’s good image, Tan Koon Swan should resign as MP for Gopeng.
Deputy Prime Minister, Ghaffar Baba, said yesterday that there was no necessity for Tan Koon Swan to tale his oath as MP for Gopeng on Oct.6 as he has six months in which to do so.
Ghaffar baba is technically right, for Article 59 (2) provides that if a MP does not take his seat within six months from the first Parliamentary sitting, his seat shall become vacant.
This question here however is not on a technical loophole to see what is the maximum time whereby Tan Koon Swan can avoid taking his seat, or take his oath as MP or to get leave from the House; but the important moral question whether it is right or not for Tan Koon Swan, who had admitted guilty to abetment of criminal breach of truth charges and been fined $500,000 and jailed for two years, should continue as an MP ‘in absentia’ in Changi Prison in Singapore.
The granting would be dishonored, and Malaysia’s international reputation tarnished if Parliament grants leave to an MP to serve out a two-year jail sentence in these circumstances overseas.
I would urge on Tan Koon Swan and the MCA and Barisan Nasional leaders to take the courageous moral decision that for Parliament’s honour and Malaysia’s international image, Tan Koon Swan should resign forthwith as MP for Gopeng.
In fact, I would suggest that the Malaysian Constitution on Article 48 with regard to disqualification of MPs should be amended to provide for:
(i) an MP is disqualified if convicted and fined for over $10,000 instead of the present $2,000, which was fined 29 years ago and is very unrealistic figure; and
(ii) Provide that an MP who would be disqualified inside Malaysia for criminal conviction and sentence, whether fine of $10,000 or one-year jail, would also be similarly disqualified if convicted and sentenced abroad.
Finally, for the sake of the Chinese community, I would also urge Tan Koon Swan to submit his resignation as Gopeng MP so that he, and through him the Chinese community, would not become the butt of jokes of other communities in the country.