Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, at the second DAP-Semangat 46 Joint National Ceramah held at Ipoh on Saturday, 24th February 1990 at 10 p.m.
DAP to move a motion of urgent, definite public importance in Parliament on Tuesday to debate UMNO Baru’s secret and unconstitutional directives to Election Commission on the snap voters’ registration exercise and changes to election rules and regulations
In the last four years after the August 1986 general elections, the Mahathir Administration embarked on a systematic concentration of power in its hands, undermining important institutions and constitutional principles meant to be essential checks and balances for a functioning parliamentary democracy in Malaysia.
In 1986, the Official Secrets Act was amended to make it an offence for anyone to ‘blow the whistle’ to expose financial scandals in government. Henceforth, it has become a great crime to expose financial scandals than to commit misappropriation and criminal breach of trust of public funds, for one who is caught revealing government secrets in order to expose financial scandals will be sentenced to a minimum mandatory one-year jail sentence, while the culprits of government scandals can continue to enjoy the fruits of office or his ill-gotten gains.
Corruption is no crime but expose of corruption is criminal
If the Government cannot invoke the Official Secrets Act for expose of government financial scandals, they can still fall back on the Internet Security Act to look up the ‘whistle-blowers’ – and this is why Karpal Singh and I found ourselves in Kamunting Detention Centre under the Internal Security Act, because of the $60 billion North-South highway Scandal. In the topsy-turvy world of Mahathir Government, corruption is no crime, but expose of corruption is criminal!
In 1987, the Government created fear and terror in the country by arbitrary and indiscriminate mass arrests of Opposition leaders, MPs and critics of the government under the infamous Operation Lalang. Altogether 106 innocent Malaysians were detained, and the very fact that not a single one of the 40 persons served with formal two-year detention orders was detained for the full two-year term highlights how flimsy were the so-called security reasons for their detention.
In fact, 66 of those detained in the initial round-up were released before the end of 60-day period of questioning, while the first batch of the 40 formally detained with two-year detention orders started leaving the Kamunting Centre after six months.
It is clear to Malaysians and the whole wide world, that the object of Operation Lalang was not to protect national security but to put the fear and terror in Malaysians not to oppose and criticize the Prime Minister and the Barisan Nasional Government.
Waiting in Kamunting for Tengku Razaleigh
There was a time in Kamunting in 1988 when my fellow detainees and I were expecting Tengku Razaleigh and other Semangt 46 leaders to join us to enjoy the hospitality of His Majesty’s Government.
In 1988, Dr. Mahathir moved against the Judges, decapitating the Judiciary by the sacking of the Lord President, Tun Salleh Abas and two Supreme Court Judges, Tan Sri Wan Suleiman and Datuk George Seah. The fundamental principles of the independence of the judiciary, the rule of law and the doctrine of separation of powers were destroyed in one fell swoop.
In 1989, the Internal Security Act was amended a second time since Operation Lalang to confer dictatorial powers on the Home Minister so that no court could review or question any order by him to detain government critics or opponents without trial.
In January 1989, the Attorney-General destroyed the eleven Vijandran videotapes, 2,000 photographs and negatives, and set in motion a new usurpation of the fundamental principles of the sovereignty of Parliamentary government and the supremacy of the Constitution.
Although D.P. Vijandran submitted his letter of resignation as Deputy Speaker to the Speaker of Parliament, Tan Sri Zahir Ismail today, the Vijandran issue has long become secondary to the larger and more fundamental issue of the abuses of power by the Attorney-General, Tan Sri Abu Talib Othman, and whether the Attorney-General is subject to Parliament or above Parliament and a law unto himself.
Only in a Mahathir Government will an Attorney-General act as if he is above Parliament and the Constitution
It is only in Mahathir’s Government that an Attorney-General could act as if he is a law unto himself higher than Parliament and even the Malaysian Constitution. It is only in Mahathir’s Government that an Attorney-General could show utter contempt to Parliament, never conceding that although his powers to decide on prosecution is an absolute discretion which could not be challenged in the courts, his every discretionary exercise is subject to review and challenge by Parliament!
This is why we find the No.2 man in the Attorney-General’s Chambers, the Solicitor-General, Datuk Abdul Aziz Mohamed, issuing a 16-page statement saying that his boss, the Attorney-General had done no wrong in destroying the Vijandran videotapes, photographs and negatives, and need not be arrested and prosecuted. Again, only such thing could happen in a Mahathir government, which seems to have difficulty in differentiating between what is simply right and wrong.
In 1990, the Mahathir Government decided to subjugate the Election Commission, which under the Constitution, is to be an independent organ which enjoy public confidence to conduct fair and free general elections without which parliamentary democracy is a mere farce.
In early January, UMNO Baru sent a secret directive to the Election Commission to conduct a snap voters’ registration exercise in March, although the Election Commission had not yet completed its preparation for the new Electoral Roll incorporating voters registered the previous year.
UMNO Baru wanted the snap voters’ registration exercise before the next general elections are held, so as to put on the electoral roll the 300,000 UMNO Baru members who have not registered as voters.
Dr. Mahathir is very worried about the next general elections
UMNO Baru also sent a secret directive to the Election Commission to change election rules and regulations.
Dr. Mahathir, despite his outward confidence, is clearly worried about the likely outcome of the next general elections, in particular in his ability to retain the two-thirds parliamentary majority. That Dr. Mahathir is nervous about the next general elections could be seen from the fact that he could not make up his mind when to call the general elections.
Dr. Mahathir and UMNO Baru now regard it crucial that before the next general elections are held, there should be a snap voters’ registration exercise in March to register the 300,000 UMNO Baru members and to change election rules and regulations, and have accordingly sent out secret directives to the Election Commission.
This however is another major and fundamental attack on the Constitution. DAP will move a motion of urgent, definite public importance in the first business day of Parliament on Tuesday, 27th February 1990 to debate the secret and unconstitutional directives of the Mahathir Government to the Election Commission to carry out snap voters’ registration campaign and to change election rules and regulations.
The unconstitutional actions of the Attorney-General and the Mahathir Government in sending secret directives to the Election Commission are the latest examples of the evils of ever-concentration of political power in Malaysia.
DAP and Semangat 46 co-operating to save democracy, defend human rights, ensure socio-economic justice and promote national unity in Malaysia
Such over-concentration of political power pose the greatest threat to democracy, human rights, socio-economic justice and a united Malaysia, and this is why the DAP and Semangat 46 are co-operating to save democracy, defend human rights, ensure socio-economic justice and promote national unity in Malaysia.
The next general elections will be the most crucial in the history of the nation, for the first time in Malaysia, the people have in their hands the power to check the slide towards undemocratic and authoritarian rule. The people have the opportunity to make political history by denying the Mahathir Government two-thirds parliamentary majority – and in fact, go a step further, and throw out the Mahathir Government to be replaced by a new one.