Speech by parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-general, MP for Tanjung and Assemblyman for Kampong Kolam, Lim Kit Siang, at the official opening of the DAP Wanita-DAP Socialist Youth (DAPSY) Conference at Federal Hotel. Kuala Lumpur on Saturday, 6.12.1986 at 8 p.m.
24 DAP MPs to petition the Yang di Pertuan Agong to invoke his powers and 37 Assemblymen under Article66 to decline Royal Assent to the Official Secrets Act Amendment Bill to send them back to Dewan Rakyat for reconsideration
The people of Malaysia lost an important round in the flight for democratic rights yesterday, with the Barisan Nasional using its four-fifth majority in Parliament to ram through the Official Secrets Act Amendment Bill, by a vote of 129 to 23 in the second reading, and a vote of 131 to 21 during the third and final reading.
The DAP MP for Gaya, Gerard Math, had not been able to be present for the debate on the OSA Amendment Bill as he had to leave for the United Kingdom for a Privacy Council case of which he is counsel. In the first vote, Sdr. Karpal Singh had been ordered out of the House after a clash with the Minister for Works, Datuk Samy Vellu, and the OSA Bill was opposed by the 22 remaining DAP MPs and the lone PSA MP for Pangkalan Chepa, Haji Abdullah Haji Arshad. In the third and final reading, DAP MP for Rasahm Hu Sepang, had already been ordered out of the House because he showed in the House a NUJ poster with the banner heading: Jangan Perkosa Rakyat (Don’t Abuse the People). The PAS MP had by then left the Chamber, and the earlier vote against the Bill was reduced by 23 to 21.
Although the people have lost one important round in the fight for democracy, the battle is now over, until the people succeed in restoring their lost rights and freedoms.
After passage in the Dewan Rakyat, the OSA Amendment Bill will go to the Dewan Negara. No Malaysian expects any vote of dissent in the Senate, which is presently a Chamber of failed and rejected politicians. The Senate, as presently constituted, is a great waste of public funds and national burden, for the government had deviated from the Constitutional objective of having a meaningful second chamber of eminent representatives from various professions and cross-sections of Malaysia life.
Nonetheless, I hope there may be surprises during the Dewan Negara debate on the OSA Bill, if some Senators have suddenly discovered their conscience to stand up to speak and vote against the Bill in view of the widespread and deep seated public opposition in the past few weeks.
For the DAP, however, our next step is for the 24 DAP MPs and 37 DAP Assemblymen to petition the Yang di Pertuan Agong to invoke for the first time his powers under Article 66 of the Constitution to decline to give Royal Assent and send the OSA Bill back to the Dewan Rakyat for reconsideration.
Under the new provisions of Article 66, which was the result of the second Constitutional Amendments in 1984 to resolve the 1983 Constitutional Crisis, the Yang di Pertuan Agong can refuse to give his Royal Assent, and under Clause 4 of Article 66, “return the Bill to the House in which it originated with a statement of the reasons for the objection to the Bill, or to any provision thereof.”
Clause 4A provides that if the yang di Pertuan Agong returns a Bill to the House in which it originated, the House shall “as soon as possible proceed to reconsider the Bill.”
Article 66 of the Constitution has given the Yang di Pertuan Agong a new duty and responsibility to remit Bill back to the House of Parliament for reconsideration, and in exercising this new duty and responsibility, he is clearly not bound to act on the advice of the Cabinet as is the usual case.
I would urge the Yang di Pertuan Agong to establish a Royal Advisory Council to advise the Yang di Pertuan Agong on Bills which should be returned to the House of Parliament for reconsideration for the public and national good, with the final power resting with the Yang di Pertuan Agong himself.
It may be a good idea that such a Royal Advisory Council comprise eminent Malaysians and elder statesmen like Tunku Abdul Rahman and Tun Hussein Onn.
The return of the OSA Bill to Dewan Rakyat for reconsideration by the Yang di Pertuan Agong will provide a great boost to the forces of democracy and freedom in Malaysia.