by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Thursday, January 21, 1993:
DAP is gravely concerned at the escalation of confrontation between the Government and the Rulers on the 1993 Constitution Amendment Bill
DAP is gravely concerned at the escalation of confrontation between the Government and the Rulers on the 1993 Constitution Amendment Bill.
This is precisely the reason why the DAP MPs had registered an abstention vote during the voting of the 1993 Constitution Amendment Bill in the Dewan Rakyat on Tuesday night.
The DAP MPs abstained in the 1993 Constitution Amendment Bill not because the DAP opposed the principles and proposals for the removal of the Rulers’ immunities, but to urge the Government to exhaust all avenues first to introduce such amendments without violating the Constitution.
The DAP MPs had a heavy historic task during the 1993 Constitution Amendment Bill debate.
Firstly, to unequivocally express the support of the DAP to the three principles that no Ruler is above the law and is at liberty to commit criminal or civil wrongdoing; that any individual aggrieved by any royal wrongdoing should be able to seek redress and secure justice; and that the government is duty-bound to uphold the rule of law and give protection to life and property of every individual in the country.
Secondly, to advise respect for the Constitutional process and provisions when proposing amendments to the Constitution.
While the majority of people support the constitutional amendments to remove the Rulers’ immunities, they also overwhelmingly want the issue to be resolved through consultation rather than confrontation
If a precedent could be introduced whereby clear-cut Constitutional processes could be disregarded, this could lead to very serious consequences in future – as for instance, allowing constitutional amendments to be passed on the introduction of hukum hudud in utter disregard of existing constitutional safeguards.
The DAP’s vote of abstention is a serious and responsible decision, for while the majority of people support the constitutional amendments to remove the Rulers’ immunities, they also overwhelmingly want the issue to be resolved through discussion and consultation rather than confrontation.
The DAP does not propose to play party politics on an important issue like the 1993 Constitution Amendment Bill, for every important fundamental issues concerning democracy, human rights and constitutional propriety are involved.
I am not surprised that the MCA President, Datuk Dr. Ling Liong Sik, has tried to gain some political mileage for the MCA against the DAP from this important issue, when everybody knows that the MCA Ministers and MPs never had a mind of their own, but will only do and vote as told by the UMNO leadership.
If Liong Sik is so desperate and irresponsible as to want to ‘fish in troubled waters’ in the hope of getting some political mileage for the MCA, let him play this game and I do not propose to follow suit.
What the DAP is concerned is to see how the will of the people, demanding that no Ruler should be above the law to commit criminal or civil wrongdoing, could be spelt out in the Constitution and receive the consent of the Conference of Rulers, without plunging the country into its greatest constitutional crisis with adverse repercussions on national development and progress.
While the MCA wants to play cheap political games to gain some petty mileage, DAP leaders are more concerned in a solution to the constitutional crisis, as in urging the Government and the Rulers to return to the discussion table to seek an amicable settlement upholding the principles of equality before the law between a Ruler and a citizen.
Liong Sik and the other MCA leaders would not dare to suggest that the Rulers and the Government return to the discussion table, and their limitations is no secret already.
The Prime Minister should uphold the 35-year constitutional convention of the Yang di Pertuan Agong being briefed by the Prime Minister at pre-cabinet meetings
The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, announced yesterday that the Federal Government and several State Governments had decided to withdraw all privileges, allocations and other entitlements to Malay Rulers other than those provided for by law.
Wasteful and extravagant expenditures for Malay Rulers should never have been approved by the Government in the first instance, instead of being used as a tool for the escalation of confrontation between the Government and the Rulers.
The DAP is concerned, however, at the Federal Government’s decision to abandon constitutional conventions, which have the effect of constitutional law, such as the Prime Minister’s pre-cabinet briefing to the Yang di Pertuan Agong. This is a convention which has the authority and force of 35 years since Merdeka, and should not be violated now.
This constitutional convention arose as a result of Article 40(1) of the Constitution which provides that “the Yang di Pertuan Agong shall be entitled, at his request, to any information concerning the government of the Federation which is available to the Cabinet”.
DAP therefore calls on the Prime Minister to honour this 35-year constitutional convention, as its violation and abandonment would mean a derogation and dimunition of the role and position of the Yang di Pertuan Agong in our constitutional system.