Present Constitution Amendment Bill proof of the frivolous use of the Barisan Nasional two-thirds majority to indulge in the whims and fancies of the Prime Minister

Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in the Dewan Rakyat on Wednesday, 14th March 1990, on the 1990 Constitution (Amendment) Bill

Present Constitution Amendment Bill proof of the frivolous use of the Barisan Nasional two-thirds majority to indulge in the whims and fancies of the Prime Minister

Parliament is now presented with another Constitutional amendment bill, whose primary purpose is to disqualify an MP for membership of the Dewan Rakyat for a period of five years if he resigns as an MP, with the same provisions for a State Assemblyman.

I submit that the present Constitutional Amendment Bill is the latest proof of the frivolous use of the Barisan Nasional two-thirds majority to indulge in the whims and fancies of the Prime Minister.

If he dislikes anything, he would invoke his two-thirds Parliamentary majority to incorporate his prejudices into law, and if necessary, tamper with Constitution as well.

Malaysian Constitution treated by Mahathir Government as if it is a municipal by-law

It is because Dr. Mahathir has had this two-thirds parliamentary majority for so long, that he has taken it for granted, and bred in him the attitude that the Constitution is no different from an ordinary law or from a municipal by-law!

Although I agree that the Malaysian Constitution is man-made, and can be man-unmade, and that it is not sacred and sancrosant in the sense that it could not be amended at all, the Constitution of the country should be treated with greater respect and solemnity than an ordinary law or municipal by-law.

Before the government introduces a Constitutional amendment, the government should seriously consider whether it is so essential, necessary and important that Parliament should be asked to use its two-thirds majority to amend the Constitution?

In fact, to ensure that the Government was not being capricious and whimsical, it should make it a practice to make known its intention to amend the Constitution and the reasons to the public to allow the fullest public discussion and debate before a Constitutional Amendment Bill is tabled in the House.

However, the Barisan Nasional has now come to regard Constitutional amendment as a very routine, ordinary and unimportant affair, and Parliament is often surprised with a Constitutional Amendment Bill when MPs arrive in Kuala Lumpur to attend Parliament.

There is no sense of seriousness and a special place for the Constitution in the national scheme of things.

I want to make it clear that I am not suggesting that the Constitution is sancrosant and untouchable, but that the Constitution must be treated with seriousness and special regard over and above ordinary laws and municipal by-laws in the country.

Many areas in the Constitution have to be amended to breather the spirit of Rukunegara into it

Of course, there are many areas in the Constitution which deserves serious study with a view to make it the basic legal foundation of the country to achieve a united, democratic, liberal, just and progressive Malaysia and to breathe the principles of the Rukunegara into the Constitution.

There are definitely many areas in the Constitution which deserve urgent and serious attention of a responsible and responsive parliament, instead of the proposals presented by the Prime Minister today, which is primarily to penalize an MP who resigns from standing for re-election for five years.

DAP calls for repeal of the Internal Security Act and annulment of the four Proclamations of Emergency

For instance, the Prime Minister should have come to the House today with proposals about Article 149 and 150 of the Constitution especially as the Malaysian Government has signed Peace Agreement with the Communist Party of Malaya in Haadyai in early December last year for the conclusion of the armed communist struggle.

However, although the 41-year-old MCP armed struggle has ended, the Government has refused to repeal the Internal Security Act which was enacted under Article 149, although Parliament had in the first instance been told that the ISA was specifically to deal with the armed communist threat. I take this opportunity to reiterate the DAP’s call on the Government to repeal the Internal Security Act.

What is even more disturbing is the way the government has abused its emergency powers under Article 150.

When the South African freedom fighter, Nelson Mandela, was released after his incarceration for 27 years, he immediately called on the President de Klerk of South Africa to abolish the Emergency rule in his country.

I am sure Dr. Mahathir endorses this call by Nelson Mandela. But in Malaysia, we have not one, but four Emergency Proclamations which are all still valid and operative:

(i) the Proclamation of Emergency of 3rd September 1964 because of Indonesian confrontation;

(ii) the Proclamation of Emergency of 14th September 1966, applicable only to Sarawak, to topple Stephen Kalong Ningkan as SNAP Chief Minister;

(iii) the Proclamation of Emergency of 15th May 1969 because of the May 13 riots; and

(iv) the Proclamation of Emergency of 8th November 1977, applicable only to Kelantan, to topple the PAS Government.

Having four Proclamations of Emergency all operative at the same, when all four of them had long become completely inapplicable and irrelevant to the original situations, is a blatant abuse of the powers of Article 150.

If the leaders of the Malaysian government are not to be accused of international hypocrisy and double-standards, these four Proclamations of Emergency in Malaysia must be annulled. Otherwise, we will have no moral authority to endorse Nelson Mandela’s demand for the abolition of emergency rule in South Africa.

Before the Prime Minister and his great disciple in twisting words and meanings, the Education Minister, Anwar Ibrahim, distorts what I have said, I make it very clear that the DAP fully supports the struggle of Nelson Mandela and the black South Africans for freedom and justice in their homeland through the destruction of the apartheid policy in South Africa, just as we fully support the struggle of the Palestinians and PLO.

I call on the Government to take immediate steps to annul the four Proclamations of Emergency, and if the Government is not prepared to do so and want to keep these four Proclamations of Emergency alive, then Article 150 needs strong safeguards to prevent such blatant abuses of emergency powers by the Government.

Strengthen Part II of Constitution on fundamental liberties to restore human rights in Malaysia

Another area in the Malaysian Constitution which deserves serious attention is the need to strengthen Part II of the Constitution on fundamental liberties.

The Prime Minister must be mindful of the fact that the Kuala Lumpur CHOGM Communique of Heads of Commonwealth Governments on October 24 called on all member countries to ratify the two International Covenents of Civil and Political Rights and of Social, Economic and Cultural Rights.

Why is Malaysian violating this KL CHOGM Communique in refusing to ratify these two international human rights declarations. Furthermore, why is the Government not prepared to strengthen Part II of the Constitution on fundamental liberties to restore human rights to all Malaysians, and to ensure that the human rights declared in Part II of the Constitution cannot be excepted, qualified and restricted to a mere nothing!

It is a shame for Malaysia that Nelson Mandela could speak to rallies of 100,000 people while public rallies are still banned in Malaysia

There is no real freedom of speech, assembly and association. When Nelson Mandela was released from jail, he could address public rallies of 50,000 and 100,000 people to propagate his opposition to apartheid policy, but in Malaysian public rallies have been banned for 12 years.

When I asked that Deputy Home Minister, Datuk Megat Junid Megat Ayub, why the South Africa government could allow Mandela to address public rallies of 100,000 people, while in Malaysia, whose leaders tell the world that South Africa is undemocratic and trample of human rights, public rallies are not allowed, Datuk Megat advised that South African matters should be left to South Africans, while matters in Malaysia are dealt with by Malaysians – declaring a policy of non-interference in the affairs of other countries.

If this is the Government policy, why then did Dr. Mahathir Mohamed go to Lusaka to meet with Nelson Mandela?

It is indeed a real shame that Nelson Mandela could speak to rallies of 100,000 people in South Africa while public rallies are still banned in Malaysia.

Call for a clear provision in Constitution that Malaysia will forever be a secular State and not become an Islamic State

Article, 10 should be strengthened to ensure that there is genuine freedom of speech, association and assembly in Malaysia – in particular to guarantee the existence of a free press and the fundamental right to information of citizens, without which there could be no meaningful democracy or a responsible and accountable Government.

Article 11 on the Freedom of Religion should also be strengthened to remove the increasing doubts in the country about the freedom to profess and practice one’s religion. These legitimate concerns have reached a stage where the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism and Sikkhism (MCCBCHS) has launched a nation-wide campaign to oppose the imposition of Islamic laws on non-Muslims.

It is most regrettable that to date, the Prime Minister has not given this concern and campaign of the MCCBCHS the seriousness it is entitled. It is even more regrettable that other Cabinet Ministers, particularly from the MCA, Gerakan and MIC, have also failed to support this concern and campaign of the MCCBCHS.

There should be provisions in the Constitution which could not be open to doubt or misinterpretation about freedom of religion in Malaysia, so that provisions like Sections 67 and 70 of the Selangor Islamic Law Administration Enactment are clearly unconstitutional and unlawful, and also to make it crystal clear that Malaysia shall forever be a secular State and not an Islamic State.

Restore independence of Judiciary and protect judges from intimidation or oppression by the Executive
Another area which is infinitely more important than the amendments before the House today is the need to restore public confidence in the independence of the Judiciary.

As Professor F.A. Trindade, a renowned authority on Malaysian Constitutional law, wrote in a recent article in the January 1990 issue of THE LAW QUARTERLY in an article entitled “The Removal of the Malaysian Judges’:

“As everybody well knows the strength of, and respect for, the constitution is heavily dependent on the strength and independence of the judiciary, Malaysia, in over 30 years of its existence as an independent nation, has been fortunate to be endowed with a judiciary which has demonstrated the highest traditions of judicial independence. Has that tradition of judicial independence been tarnished in any way by the events of 1988 and, if so, are there any steps that might be taken to ensure the continuance of that proud tradition?

Professor Trindade, the Sir Owen Dixon Professor of Law at the Monash University and the co-editor of two books on the Malaysian Constition, CONSTITUTION OF MALAYSIA – OTS DEVELOPMENT: 1957-1977 and THE CONTITUTION OF MALAYSIA – FURTHER PERSPECTIVES AND DEVELOPMENTS went on in this article to examine the allegations against Tun Salleh Abas, the then Lord President, the Report of the Salleh Abas Tribunal (the First Tribunal), as well as the proceedings and Report Supreme Court judges who had issued an interim order prohibiting the Tun Salleh Tribunal from presenting its Report to the Yang di Pertuan Agong.

Five allegations were made against Tun Salleh Abas and which were inquired into by the First Tribunal, and this is Professor Trindade’s conclusion after a review of the proceedings, allegations and report of the First Tribunal.

Professor Trindade: Tun Salleh Abas, Tan Sri Wan Suleiman and Datuk George Seah not guilty of “judicial misbehaviour” and should never have been removed from office

Professor Trindade found that the first two allegations against Tun Salleh Abas did not stand up to scrutiny, that the findings of the Tribunal on the third allegation was “perverse”, the fourth allegation “unwarranted” and the fifth allegation not serious enough to justify the ultimate penalty of removal from office.

With regard to the Report of the Second Tribunal, which resulted in the expulsion of two Supreme Court judges, Tan Sri Wan Suleiman and Datuk George Seah, Professor Trindade found that the allegations made against the five Supreme Court judges, including Tan Sri Wan Suleiman and Datuk George Seah were not sustainable, and that both Tan Sri Wan Suleiman and Datuk George Seah should not have been removed from office.

The central issue of the proceedings of the Second Tribunal was the true meaning of Section 9(1) of the Judicature Act 1964, and whether the five Supreme Court judges could attend the special sitting of the Supreme Court on July 2, 1988 convened by Tan Sri Wan Suleiman, as the Acting Lord President (Tun Hamid) was disqualified from acting because of bias or possible interest as he had been appointed Chairman of the First Tribunal.

Interpretation of Section 9(1) of Judicature Act: Tribunal upheld the view of one against seven Supreme Court judges

Professor Trindade made the interesting point that on this crucial issue, although the Second Tribunal conceded that it was “not constitutionally empowered to interpret section 9(1) authoritatively, so as to be finally and conclusively binding upon the courts of Malaysia” and “that function belongs to the Supreme Court alone”, the Tribunal rejected the interpretation which had the implicit support of at least seven of the ten Supreme Court judges (and a former Lord President, Namely Tun Suffian), in favour of the interpretation acted on by one person, the Acting Lord President. This is a case of the Second Tribunal upholding the view of one against seven Supreme Court judges!

This is the conclusion of Professor Trindade:

“1. The removel of the Lord President (Tun Salleh) and the two other judges of the Supreme Court in Malaysia is a matter of grave concern for all those who believe in the independence of the judiciary.

“2. Even if it is possible to say that the conduct of Tun Salleh and the other two judges involved errors of protocol, acts of discourtesy or errors of judgment it was certainly not the kind of conduct which justified the initiation of the procedures for removal under Article 125(3) of the Constitution.

“3. This conclusion also implies that the findings of the two Tribunals, appointed to enquire into that conduct, were not justified by the facts and that the behaviour of Tun Salleh and the two Supreme Court judges should never have been regarded as judicial misbehaviour or misconduct which rendered them unfit to hold judicial office.

“4. The choice and composition of the two Tribunals, the procedures followed by them (particularly by the Tun Salleh Tribunal) and the broad definition of judicial “misbehaviour” adopted by those Tribunals might well have left those judges who have been removed with the distinct feeling that these matters should be spelt out in greater detail and that Article 125 in its present form is not the safeguard for judges that it was intended to be. This constitutional provision needs to be looked again by those concerned with constitutional matters in Malaysia.

“5. Apart from this, those concerned with the matters dealt with here might wish to consider the extent to which criticism of judges, particularly by Members of Parliament, should be conducted outside the parameters provided by the Constitution.”

The New York Lawyers Committee for Human Rights issued a report entitled “Malaysia: Assault on the Judiciary” in 1989 and ended with this conclusion: The Mahathir government’s actions against the judiciary are likely to have far ranging effects on the rule of law in Malaysia. Before mid-1988, the judiciary was able to provide a limited, but important, check on the power of the executive branch. Today, the restraint on government power provided by an independent judiciary is effectively eliminated.”

Parliament should be dealing with these substantive Constitutional questions, rather than the frivolous amendments before the House. This is particularly so as the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, has conceded that the allegation made by Tun Salleh Abas and K. Das in their book MAY DAY FOR JUSTICE that the audience the Prime Minister allegedly had with the Yang di Pertuan Agong on the Cabinet Wednesday of May 1, 1988 which started the chain of events leading to the sacking of the Lord President and two Supreme Court judges could not have taken place, because May 1, 1988 was not a Cabinet Wednesday (but a Sunday and a public holiday to boot).

At the last parliamentary meeting at the end of last year, in response to my query, the Prime Minister said he would not lower himself to answer the hundred and one questions raised by Tun Salleh Abas in his book MAY DAY FOR JUSTICE.

However, Dr. Mahathir has now decided to ‘lower’ himself to answer MAY DAY FOR JUSTICE with another book which has just been published, namely JUDICIAL MISCONDUCT by Peter Alderidge Williams. JUDICIAL MISCONDUCT, which was clearly written with the blessings of Dr. Mahathir, carried an interview with the Prime Minister where for the first time he responded to the serious allegation in MAY DAY FOR JUSTICE about the impossibility of the Prime Minister having had an audience with the Yang di pertuan Agong on May 1, 1988. This is what Dr. Mahathir said:

“Tun Selleh Abas does talk a lot of nonsense doesn’t he? Of course the representation was made. I followed the constitutional provisions carefully. If a mistake was made in relation to the date, it was an innocent mistake made by the clerk who drafted the letter for me. I sign hundreds of documents every week, and indeed thousands during a year, and if it were incumbent upon me to check every detail in every document that I sign, I simply would not be able to get through my workload. One must assume that certain matters like dates are correct and must rely upon the accuracy of staff and advisers. At any rate, if a mistake is made in a date, how does it affect the issue? Any person trying to recollect can make a mistake as to dates, some people are worse than others with dates. I think this is another example of Tun Salleh Abas trying to avoid the main issues.”

Dr. Mahathir should know that this dismissive manner to the many important and pertinent questions raised by MAY DAY FOR JUSTICE can only reinforced national and international views that a gross travesty of justice had been done to Malaysian judges by the Government in 1988.

Further, Parliament is entitled to an explanation from the Prime Minister why he refused to explain in the House when this issue was brought up at the end of last year, and instead waited to sponsor a book to answer MAY DAY FOR JUSTICE. Is this a reflection of his lowly regard for Parliament?

Challenge to Prime Minister to declare what legal action the Election Commission or Attorney-General intends to take against me for repeating outside Parliament that the Election Commission is not independent

Finally, how can the Prime Minister convince the people that the Barisan Nasional Government is not being frivolous and capricious in bringing these constitutional amendments when the great current concern about the independence of the Election Commission is not being dealt with at all.

The Constitutional provision for an independent Election Commission enjoying public confidence is the cornerstone of parliamentary democracy, for only an independent Election Commission can conduct free, fair, clean and honest general elections, giving legitimacy and credibility to the elected government of the day.

Last Friday, during the debate on the on the 1989 supplementary estimates, the Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Dato Raja Ariffin bin Raja Sulaiman, challenged me to repeat outside Parliament my allegation that the Election Commission is not independent, and threatened me with action by either the Election Commission or Government.

I had accepted his challenge and repeated my allegation outside the House on Monday, and I challenge the Prime Minister to declare what legal action the Election Commission or the Attorney-General proposes to take against me.

When Datuk Raja Ariffin threw that challenge at me, he was making it on behalf of the Government and the Election Commission, and if the Election Commission and the Government is not following through with legal proceedings against me, then the Government would be reduced to a laughing stock.

I told Parliament last Friday of the circular dated February 26, 1990 by the UMNO Baru Kelantan State Liaison Secretary, Hj Ahmad Shahibuddin bin Hj Mohd. Nor to all Kelantan UMNO Baru divisions to spell out the mechanics as to how they could get involved in the voters’ registration exercise.

Today, I want to ask the Prime Minister who is also UMNO Baru President whether he could deny that on 15th September 1989, the UMNO Baru Secretary-General, Datuk Mohamed Rahmat, sent out a circular under the heading ‘Persediaan Pilihanraya Umum dan Pendaftaran Pemilih (surat pekeliling ibu pejabat UMNO bil:5/89[Tambahan]) which said that the UMNO Supreme Council at its meeting of 14th Sept. 1989 had decided on eight matters which should receive the attention of all UMNO State Liaison Chairmen, Secretaires and Executive Secretaries.

The circular, among other things, stated:

“1.6: Bahagian-bahagian UMNO hendaklah mengemukakan senarai nama Penolong Pegawai Pendaftaran untuk keperluan pendaftaran pemilih yang baru.

“1.7: Perhubungan UMNO Negeri diberi mase sebulan untuk mengemukakan nama-nama itu kepada Timbalan Presiden.

“1.8: Saluran membuang undi yang baru akan diwujudkan bagi memudahkan rakyat membuang undi terutamanya diluar-luar bandar. UMNO bahagian diminta mengemukakan cadangan ke IBU Pejabat UMNO.’

This is another proof of UMNO Baru’s role and directive to the Election Commission to conduct the current snap 27-day voters’ registration exercise, primarily to register the 300,000 UMNO Baru members.

Election Commission Secretary, Haji Rashid Abdul Rahman, said two days ago that the current voters registration exercise was decided by the commission on Nov. 7 last year. This fitted in with the revelation in the circular by the UMNO Baru Secretary-General and Information Minister, Datuk Mohamed Rahmat, that the UMNO Baru Supreme Council discussed the subject of voters’ registration, and even called for UMNO Bahagian to submit nominations for the appointment of assistant registration officers by the Election Commission, on Sept. 14 last year.

Call on Ghafar Baba to explain whether he had interfered with the independence of the Election Commission

From the circular, it is the Timbalan UMNO Baru President, who is none other than the Deputy Prime Minister, Ghafar Baba, who would instruct the Election Commission as to the appointment of UMNO Baru Bahagian nominees as assistant registration officials by the Election Commission for the purpose of the current voters’ registration exercise.

This is a very serious allegation. I call on the Deputy Prime Minister to make a full and clear statement whether he had interfered with the independence of the Election Commission, and if not, what is the meaning of the circular issued by the UMNO Baru Secretary-General dated Sept. 15, 1989.

What provision is there in the Constitution to uphold the independence of the Election Commission from being compromised or undermined by interference, pressure and directive from UMNO Baru and the Barisan Nasional Government? This is what we should be debating, and not the issued submitted by the Prime Minister.

In the absence of safeguards and provisions in the Constitution to uphold the independence, integrity and image of the Election Commission so that it could continue to enjoy public confidence to conduct free, fair, clean and honest elections, is the Election Commission prepared to welcome a public inquiry into its independence say, by the Election Watch?

Is Dr. Mahathir prepared to resign as UMNO President and Prime Minister if UMNO Baru cannot win all the seats in the next general elections as he had predicted?

In this connection, the government cannot be unaware of the public concern as to what UMNO Baru was up to in conducting the two-week ‘mock elections’ last month, and whether it was a preparation for the UMNO Baru to rig the next general elections.

Dr. Mahathir had said last week that according to the UMNO Baru ‘mock elections’ results, all the UMNO Baru candidates will win in the next general elections.

With this ‘mock victory’ from the UMNO Baru’s ‘mock elections’, why then is the Prime Minister not calling for immediate general elections? If Dr. Mahathir is serious about his confidence that all UMNO candidates would win in the next general elections, is he prepared to make a public commitment that if his prediction does not come true he would step down as UMNO President and Prime Minister?

More important to ensure that those who are ‘perverted’ and ‘mereng’ like D.P. Vijandran, do not continue as MPs

Even if the government wants to amend the Constitution pertaining to the status and qualifications of MPs, there are more important aspects to be dealt with than the one before the House to bar a MP and s State Assemblyman who resigns his seat from re-contesting for five years.

For instance, it is surely more important that steps are taken to ensure that those who are ‘perverted’ and ‘mereng’ do not continue as MPs to protect the honour and dignity of Parliament and the country.

I have studied last Thursday’s Hansard on the hour-long question-and-answer session by the Prime Minister on the Vijandran pornographic videotapes scandal, and it is clear that the Prime Minister had referred to Vijandran as ‘perverted’ and ‘mereng’. This is the relevant Hansard section:

“Tuan Karpal Singh: Tuan Speaker, Yang Amat Berhormat Perdana Menteri ada cakap dia tidak tengok video-video lucah ini dan gambar-gambar lucah itu, tetapi adakan beliau dapat tahu daripada Peguam Negara apa yang terdandung didalam video-video lucah ini……………

Perdana Menteri: Tuan Yang di-Pertua, untuk hendak jawab soalan ini saya terpaksalah tanya daripada Peguam Negara dan Peguam Negara punya laporan ialah dia tidak tengok gambar ini, dia dapat laporan daripada pihak Polis and pihak Polis berkata adalah gambar yang melibatkan orang tertentu……..

Tuan Lim Kit Siang: Siapa?

Perdana Menteri: …….dalam ini. Orang itu mengambil gambar dirinya untuk dia hendak tengok sendiri. (Ketawa). Saya tidak tahu. (Ketawa).

Tuan Lim Kit Siang: Sebelas videotapes, seorang sahaja? (Ketawa).

Perdana Menteri: Ada terlibat orang lain, tetapi orang itu dia ambil untuk kepentingan dia, dia hendak tengok, kadang-kadang ada setengah orang (Ketawa), dia mereng sedikit barangkali dia suke berdiri depan cermin bogel, takkan kita hendak pergi tangkap dia, lebih sedikit daripada itu dia beli Polaroid camera atau sebagainya, dia ambil gambar diri dia. Sekarang ini sudah ada video, dahulu hendak kena hantar pergi ke kedai suruh basuh (cuci), jadi orang lain tengok, sekarang ini tidak payah orang lain tengok.

Jadi sekarang ini tidak payah orang lain tengok. Jadi ada orang yang kadang-kadang mungkin perverted sedikit, dia buat kerja macam itu untuk dirinya, dia hendak tengok. Jadi soalnya apakah ini lucah atau tidak lucahnya, kalau dia ambil gambarnya sendiri………..

Tuan Lim Kit Siang: Perdana Menteri sudah mengakui bahawa dalam 11 buah video-video tape itu bukan seorang, ada orang-orang lain. Apakah pihak Polis menentukan sama ada gambar itu, videotape itu dimaja orang-orang yang lain ada terlibat dibuat dengan secara sukarela atau tanpa pengetahuan orang-orang yang lain dan kalau begitu, bukankan ini satu jenayah yang sudah dilakukan?

Perdana Menteri:Tuan Yang di Petua, itu akan diputuskan oleh pihak Mahkamah sama ada benda itu menjadi bahan yang perlu dibawa didalam Mahkamah………….”

Firstly, the Prime Minister has confused the constitutional separation of powers when he said that it is for the courts to decide whether the filming of other persons by Vijandran without their knowledge or consent is a crime, forgetting that it is the Police and the Attorney-General who must institute criminal proceedings before the courts could determine whether a crime had been committed.

If the Police and the Attorney-General do not prosecute Vijandran for videotaping other people in embarrassing poses and positions without their knowledge or consent, then the courts would never have the opportunity to decide on the criminality of the matter.

However, what is more pertinent before the House today is how could a person whom the Prime Minister had described as ‘pervert’ and ‘mereng’ be allowed to continue to be a Member of Parliament. The Prime Minister did not and could not use those words in a vacuum, with reference to nobody. He could not be referring to other MPs, whether the MP FOR Jelutong, myself or to he himself. From the context of the hour-long question-and-answer session on the Vijandran videotapes issue, the Prime Minster was referring to only one person, D.P. Vijandran, the MP for Kapar.

It is not for me to say whether the Prime Minister is right and correct indescribing Vijandran as ‘pervert’ and ‘mereng’. He has his sources of information, and as he himself said in Ipoh a few days ago, of the four parties who knew the contents of the videotapes, tow of them are the Governent itself, namely the Police and the Attorney-General.

Vijandran should either challenge Mahathir to repeat outside the House his description of him as ‘pervert’ and ‘mereng’ or be sacked as MP

And as the Prime Minster admitted during the question-and-answer session, he had a full briefing on the Vijandran videotapes from the Attorney-General and Police before he came to Parliament to answer the questions, causing him to describe Vijandran and his conduct with words like ‘pervert’ and ‘mereng’. The Prime Minister has therefore become fifth pary who knows about the contents of the Vijandran videotapes because of such briefing.

If Vijandran does not challenge Dr. Mahathir’s description of him as “pervert” and “mereng”, then there is no other honourable choice but for the Dewan Rakyat to remove him as an MP by a motion expelling him from the House to protect the honour and dignity of Parliament.

If Vijandran wants to clear his name, then he should challenge Dr. Mahathir to repeat these words outside the House, to give him an opportunity to sue the Prime Minister to clear his name and reputation.

However, for the past week, there has been no protest from Vijandran against Dr. Mahathir’s description of him as “pervert” and “mereng”, nor is there any objection from the MIC President, Datuk Samy Vellu.

As it is, there is no provision in the Constitution to disqualify a MP who is a “pervert” and “mereng”. This is a more serious matter than the amendment the government has brought to the House to bar MPs from being a MP for five years if they resign their seats.

A disgrace that the Returning Officer allowed an undischarged bankrupt to be nominated as a candidate

On Monday, in the nominations for the Pantai Merdeka State Assembly by-election in Kedah, the Returning Officer allowed an undischarged bankrupt, Shuaib bin Lazim, to be nominated as Barisan Nasional candidate. The Returning Officer brushed aside objections to Shuaib’s nomination, although Article 48 (1)(b) made it very clear that an undischarged bankrupt is disqualified from being a Member of Parliament.

I have here copies of Kuala Lumpur High Court (Commercial Division) documents showing clearly that Shuaib was declared a bankrupt by the High Court Judge, Justice Dato V. C. George on 21st February 1990 in open court in an uncontested petition for his bankruptcy by Mercantile Insurance Sdn. Bhd. for the sum of $556,150, excluding interest of the past seven months.

If the returning officer had asked Shuaib at that time whether he was an undischarged bankrupt, Shuaib would have no choice but to confirm it, unless he is going to tell a lie.

Call on Dr. Mahathir to concede that Shuib is not qualified to stand for elections and publicy withdraw him from the Pantai Merdeka by-election

I understand that Shuaib is taking action to discharge himself as a bankrupt by paying up his debts, but this does not alter the fact that during Nomination, he was an undischarged bankrupt and should have been disqualified as a candidate for the Pantai Merdeka by-election by the Returning Officer.

How is it that such a clear provision of the Constitution could be treated with contempt by the Returning Officer. This can only further undermine public confidence in the Election Commission and the election machinery.

Unless the Prime Minister is going to dispute that Shuib was an undischarged bankrupt during Nomination Day on Monday, 12th March 1990, I call on the Prime Minister to show his respect for the spirit and letter of Article 48 of the Constitution by publicy announcing that the Barisan Nasional concedes that it had fielded a candidate who is not qualified to stand for elections, and withdraw him from the Pantai Merdeka by-election.

I also call on the Election Commission to concede that the Returning Officer has made a grave mistake in not upholding the objection against Shuib and for not disqualifying him as a candidate on Nomination Day in the Pantai Merdeka by-election.

No good reason to bar an MP from resigning to seek renewed mandate from the voters by way of by-election
There is no good reason to bar an MP or State Assemblyman from resigning his seat to seek a renewed mandate from the voters. This is why I describe this proposed constitutional amendment as frivolous.

This proposal came about as a result of the need by UMNO leaders to save the MCA Deputy President, Lee Kim Sai, from being trounced by the DAP Deputy Secretary-General and MP for Bukit Bintang, Sdr. Lee Lam Thye, after Kim Sai had foolishly challenged Lam Thye to a by-election in any one of the four seats named by the MCA Deputy President, namely: Sungai Besi, Seputeh, Petaling Jaya and Puchong.

Kim Sai made this challenge during the Bentong by-election in order to distract public attention from the sorry and dishonourable chapter of his political life, when he escaped to Australia in October 1987 for fear of being arrested under the Internal Security Act during Operation Lalang.

In the Bentong by-election, Kim Sai tried to present himself as a martyr, announcing that he wa not having a jolly time in Australia when he was in hiding there in the last two months of 1987, but that it was a time of suffering for him, how he had so run out of funds that he did not stay in hotels but had to sleep on the floor at the house of his son, who was studying in Australia.

I pointed out that Kim Sai was being most unfair to his son, for he was publicly accusing his son of not being filial, making his father to sleep on the floor while his son slept on the comfortable bed – although I do not know whether it was a water-bed!

In embarrassment, Kim Sai had to resort to challenge to divert public attention from his unconvincing story as to what a great martyr he was in the days of Operation Lalang.

On 2nd May 1989, Lee Kim Sai challenged Lam Thye to reply within 24 hours to contest against him in a by-election in anyone of the four constituencies of Sungei Besi, Seputeh, petaling Jaya and Puchong. When this was immediately accepted by Lee Lam Thye, who picked Seputeh, the DAP MP for Seputeh, Liew Ah Kim, without hesitation announced that he would resign his parliamentary seat to enable such a by-election to take place, although Liew Ah Kim would lose his right to parliamentary pension as he would not have served the minimum three-year term to qualify for it.

When on 11th May, Lam Thye and Ah Kim came to Parliament to submit their respective letters of resignation as MP, Lee Kim Sai chickened out. To mislead the Bentong voters, he also wrote out his letter of resignation as MP for Hulu Langat, but he did not send it to the Speaker of Dewan Rakyat. Instead, he sent it to the MCA Secretay-General, probably thinking the MCA Secretay-General has become the Parliamentary Speaker.

Finally, the Prime Minister had to come out to save Kim Sai from being trounced by Lam Thye by disallowing the by-election. One outcome of that episode is this Bill before the House.

Of course, the Prime Minister was not exactly altruistic when he disallowed Kim Sai from having a by-election contest with Lam Thye. This is because if such a by-election is held, there would have to be a by-election in Kim Sai’s Hulu Langat constituency, where there would be a battle between UMNO Baru and Semangat 46 regardless of who contest in the constituency, whether the Barisan Nasional or the Opposition.

UMNO Baru was not sure about its strength in Hulu Langat and was not prepared to test it. Kim Sai was aware of this, and exploited this weakness of UMNO Baru knowing that UMNO Baru would be forced to bail him out and stop a Lam Thye-Kim Sai by-election battle to avoid a by-election against Semangat 46 forces in Hulu Langat.

Of course, the Johore by-election in August was another reason for the present amendment.

The defeat of the UMNO Baru candidate in the Johore Bahru by-election placed the Mahathir government in a precarious state, and if in the subsequent by-election, as in Parit Raja state by-election in Johore, UMNO Baru had lost, the Mahathir Government might have fallen.

Clearly, the Johore Bahru by-election had been a traumatic experience for Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir and UMNO Baru, but the traumatic experience of a person or a party is no reason why the Constitution shoud be amended to bar MPs from resigning from returning to the voters for a new mandate.

One reason given by the Government to bar such by-elections is that this will avoid ‘the people from being trouble and public funds wasted.’

This is a completely unacceptable argument, as there is no reason why the people should be inconvenienced and public funds wasted, if the government stop its practice of Politics of Money and Corruption during by-elections.

The trouble is that the Barisan Nasional has found that the only way it could win by-elections is to resort to the Politics of Money and Corruption, and this is why in the Bentong by-election last year, the Deputy Prime Minister, Ghafar Baba became the Deputy Prime Minister for Bentong only, flying there in government helicopter every day with bags of money to distribute public money to buy votes for the Barisan Nasional.

This amendment is completely unnecessary and the DAP opposes the Constitutional Amendment Bill before the House.

We will support the establishment of a Constitutional Review Commission to restore the democratic freedoms and human rights of all Malaysians, but not this piecemeal chopping up of the Constitution to suit the whims and fancies of the Prime Minister.