By Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Tuesday, 6th February 1990:
Motions for removal of D.P. Vijandran as Deputy Speaker and Tan Sri Abu Talib Othman as Attorney-General submitted to Speaker, Tan Sri Mohamed Zahir Ismail
I have today submitted to the Speaker of Dewan Rakyat, Tan Sri Mohamed Zahir Ismail, notice to move two motions in the Parliamentary meeting beginning on February 26, 1990 on the removal of D.P. Vijandran as Deputy Speaker and Tan Sri Abu Talib Othman as Attorney-General.
The first motion reads:
“That this House
RESOLVES to remove YB D.P. Vijandran as Deputy Speaker;
FURTHER RESOLVES to refer him to the Committee of Privileges for a full-scale investigation into allegations that he had acted in pornographic videotapes.”
The second motion reads:
“That this House
RESOLVES to censure the Attorney-General, Tan Sri Abu Talib Othman, for the destruction of the eleven videotapes and four envelopes of photographs recovered from the burglary of the safe in the house of YB D.P. Vijandran in August 1988, whish was improper, unethical, unjustifiable and unlawful; and
FURTHER RESOLVES that Tan Sri Abu talib Othman should be removed as Attorney-General as his decision to destroy the eleven videotapes and four envelopes of photographs had obstructed the process of justice and gravely undermined public confidence in the impartiality and integrity in the administration of justice.”
I have yesterday written to the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed asking him as Leader of the House to move the motion to remove D.P. Vijandran as Deputy Speaker.
In my letter to the Prime Minister, I said that if he declined to move the motion, I would move such a motion as well as to propose that the Vijandran pornographic videotapes issue be referred to the Committee of Privileges. I asked the Prime Minister in such a situation to agree to give this motion priority above all other government business during the Parliamentary meeting beginning on February 26.
I will withdraw motion if the Prime Minister is prepared to table the motion to remove Vijandran
My letter to the Prime Minister said: “The position of D.P. Vijandran as Deputy Speaker is a matter affecting parliamentary privilege and dignity, and not a partisan issue. This is why it would be ideal if as Leader of the House, you could move this motion.
“A Deputy Speaker is appointed to help preside Dewan Rakyat proceedings and a Deputy Speaker who has to go on leave when Dewan Rakyat meets clearly cannot perform him duties and functions.
“Furthermore, the government is fully aware of the nature of the contents of the eleven videotapes and 2,000 photographs stolen from YB Vijandran’s house in August 1988, and which were ordered to be destroyed by the Attorney-General, Tan Sri Abu Talib Othman.
“If there is nothing amiss or wrong about these eleven videotapes and 2,000 photographs, the government should not allow YB Vijandran to take indefinite long leave, and should instead, give him full backing and support as Deputy Speaker.
“On the other hand, if the government agrees to YB Vijandran taking indefinite long leave as Deputy Speaker, it could only be construed that the government does not regard the eleven videotapes and 2,000 photographs as harmless nad innocent material. In this event, the government should duly and honourably take the next logical step to remove YB Vijandran as Deputy Speaker.
“It is significant that the MIC has in effect removed YB Vijandran as MIC Secretary-General because of the same videotapes issue. Can parliament do less than MIC when placed in similar circumstances?”
If Dr. Mahathir is prepared as Leader of the House to move a motion to remove D.P. Vijandran as Deputy Speaker and refer the Vijandran pornographic videotapes scandal to the Parliamentary committee of Privileges for a full investigation, then I am prepared to withdraw my motion on D.P. Vijandran.
In my letter to the Prime Minister, I had laso asked the government to agree to give my motion on the removal of Tan Sri Abu Talib Othman as Attorney-General for the destruction of the eleven Vijandran videotapes and four envelopes of 2,000 photographs priority over all government business so that it could be debated and decided upon.
Two motions of great importance to principle of parliamentary democratic government
The two motions on the removal of Vijandran as Deputy Speaker and Tan Sri Abu Talib Othman as Attorney-General are of great importance to the principle of parliamentary democratic government. Unfortunately, there are political stooges of Barisan Nasional parties, in particular the MCA – whose President, Datuk Dr. Ling Liong Sik, had ordered all MCA members not to have any views or thoughts on the Vijandran pornographic videotape scandal – who are going around saying that such motions are a waste of parliamentary time.
If the Government and Cabinet, which knows the nature of the contents of the eleven Vijandran videotape and photographs, are not prepared to either support or remove Vijandran as Deputy Speaker, surely this is a most irresponsible government which should be censured by public.
When the Police and the Attorney-General know what are the contents of the eleven Vijandran videotapes and 2,000 photographs, can the Government and Cabinet disclaim knowledge and information? Such disclaimer will undermine and destroy the fundamental principle of collective Ministerial responsibility – and makes nonsense of the entire concept of parliamentary democratic government.
Similarly, can the Prime Minister take the attitude that he is not responsible for the actions of the Attorney-General, to the extent that he could publicly state he would not even ask the Attorney-General why he ordered the eleven Vijandran videotapes and 2,000 photographs destroyed?
Who then is the Attorney-General responsible to? In a parliamentary democratic government, the Attorney-General must be finally responsible to Parliament, whether directly whether the Attorney-General is a political appointment, or indirectly through the Prime Minister where it is a non-political appointment.
Is the Attorney-General in Malaysia all-powerful who is above the laws, Parliament and even the Constitution?
But if in this case, the Prime Minister can wash his hands and disclaim responsibility and interest in the actions of the Attorney-General, then it means that the Attorney-General is responsible to nobody, neither to Prime Minister nor Parliament. Do we have an Attorney-General in Malaysia who is higher than the laws of the land, Parliament and even the Constitution?
If this is the case, then the entire principle and practice of parliamentary democratic government has been subverted.
This is why the two motions on Vijandran and Tan Sri Abu Talib are in fact test cases as to whether Parliament has been reduced to a stage where it could not hold Ministers to be individually responsible for the actions in their respective Ministries as well as collectively responsible for the actions of the entire government.