Chinese New Year Message
issued by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, on Thursday, 21st January 1993:
DAP calls for a ‘cooling off’ period to allow an amicable settlement between the Government and the Rulers on the 1993 Constitution Amendment Bill
The Chinese New Year of the rooster in being ushered in under the cloud of the gravest constitutional crisis in Malaysian history.
Although Ministers are claiming that the constitutional crisis would not adversely affect the investment climate and economic development in the country, there is no doubt that such a constitutional crisis would have far-reaching and destabilising effects to the country, whether in the fields of political democracy, economic development, law-and-order or nation-building.
Malaysians want to see the constitutional stalemate with the Rulers over the 1993 Constitution Amendment Bill to remove the Rulers’ immunity resolved without a prolonged constitutional crisis accompanied with a protracted test of will and strength.
So as long as the doors of discussion and consultation are still open, it is the duty of every responsible Malaysian leader to seek an amicable solution to the constitution stalemate and avert a protracted constitutional crisis to resolve the issue.
The Conference of Rulers, in its statement on 18.1.1993, has accepted the principle that Rulers do not have the immunity to commit wrongdoings. It said: “No Ruler has the right to hurt or cause harm to another person. The Conference of Rulers agrees to the formation of an effective mechanism to hear the rakyat’s grievances against them. It is in total agreement with the view that there cannot be two systems of justice in the country.”
The Rulers should have made public their acceptance of this important principle that no Ruler is above the law much earlier.
The statement by the Conference of Rulers on 18.1.1993 accepting that the Rulers are not above the law should be the basis for the opening of new discussions and consultations between the Government and the Rulers to reach an amicable settlement to the stalemate over the 1993 Constitution Amendment Bill.
It is most unfortunate that the Barisan Nasional government had rejected the DAP’s proposal in the Dewan Rakyat for the formation of a Select Committee comprising representatives from all political parties in Parliament to find a formula whereby a the Constitution Amendment Bill will spells outs the principles that no Ruler is above the law to commit criminal or civil wrongdoing and that every aggrieved individual should be able to seek redress and secure justice could be consented to by the Conference of Rulers.
With the rejection of the DAP’s proposal for a Parliamentary Select Committee to attempt an amicable solution with the Rulers, the Government must respond to the Rulers’ invitation for further consultations as contained in the statement of the Conference of Rulers on 18.1.1993.
It would appear that there is no proper discussion or consultation mechanism between the Government and the Rulers on the constitution amendment bill. This may explain why the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and the Finance Minister met with five Rulers on January 16 and with four Sultans and two Regents on January 17, and on no occasion, met with all the nine Rulers.
DAP calls for a ‘cooling-off period’ to allow for an amicable settlement between the Government and the Rulers on the 1993 Constitution Amendment Bill, through the establishment of a proper mechanism for discussion and consultation between the Government and the Rulers.
If the Government and the Rulers agree to return to the discussion table to spell out in the Constitution that Rulers are not above the law to commit criminal and civil wrongdoings, then there will be a silver lining to the clouds that are ushering in the Year of the Rooster.
While DAP fully supports the principles and proposals in the 1993 Constitution Amendment Bill, we want to caution all parties concerned to seek an amicable settlement which respect the wishes of the people as well as the integrity of the existing constitution.
DAP does not believe that the country has reached a stage where the principles of democracy and human rights could not be upheld without violating the Malaysian constitution.
Until the DAP is convinced that the principles of democracy and human rights cannot be upheld without violating the Constitution, the DAP will continue to urge caution and an amicable settlement between the Government and the Rulers to the constitution stalemate – and a solution based on discussion and consultation rather than confrontation.