by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Penang on Monday, February 1, 1993:
Keng Yaik will only support the proposal that the Government and the Rulers return to the discussion table to find an amicable settlement to the constitutional crisis when UMNO leaders have given their approval
The Gerakan President, Datuk Dr. Lim Keng Yaik, is fond of playing his favourite role as ‘The Foolish Doctor’ – and this was what he did in Penang yesterday when he again attacked the DAP on the constitutional crisis.
It is significant that Keng Yaik and the other Gerakan leaders had evaded the pertinent question as to their stand on the DAP proposal that the Government and the Rulers should return to the discussion table to seek an amicable settlement to the constitutional crisis so as to avoid a protracted constitutional stalemate which would adversely affect Malaysia’s economic prospects.
Discerning Malaysians have realized that Keng Yaik and the Gerakan leaders dare not say ‘yes’ and they dare not say ‘no’ to the DAP proposal.
Keng Yaik and the Gerakan leaders dare not agree to the DAP proposal that the Government and the Rulers return to the discussion table, because the UMNO leaders have not given their approval.
The Gerakan leaders dare not publicly say ‘no’ to the DAP proposal for fear that UMNO leaders, without consulting Gerakan, might decide later to return to the discussion table with the Rulers.
This is the agony and dilemma of Gerakan leaders who have no political stand of their own, and dare not disagree with the UMNO leaders.
Keng Yaik will only date to support the proposal that the Government and the Rulers return to the discussion table to seek an amicable settlement to the constitutional crisis when the UMNO leaders have given their approval.
DAP has always taken its own stand, even disagreeing with Semangat 46 on the 1993 Constitution Amendment Bill.
DAP had made it very clear that we fully supported the principles and proposals in the 1993 Constitution Amendment Bill to remove the Rulers’ immunity so that they could not commit any criminal or civil wrongdoing.
However, as no such constitutional amendment could be valid unless it fulfills the constitutional requirement that it obtained the consent from the Conference of Rulers, the DAP proposed that the proper solution is to return to the discussion table for the Government and Rulers to find an amicable settlement.
It is very sad that Keng Yaik and the Gerakan leaders should be so ‘politically bankrupt’ that they want to seek political capital from the constitutional crisis.
I would repeat my advice to Keng Yaik and the Gerakan leaders that they should play a more positive, responsible and constructive role in the constitutional crisis – as in advising the UMNO leaders to return to the discussion table.
The single most important issue at present in how to resolve the constitutional crisis in an amicable manner in the shortest possible time –whereby the principles that no Rulers are above the law to commit criminal or civil wrongdoings are written into the Constitution and which could obtain the consent of the Conference of Rulers.
Gerakan joined in the UMNO and MCA attack when Karpal Singh took the Selangor Sultan to court in 1987 on a constitutional issue
It serves no purpose for Gerakan or the MCA or even the DAP to claim who is ‘the greater’ on this issue of royal wrongdoings, and we do not want to play this game.
If DAP wants to play such a game with the Gerakan, we could re-open the old files and ask the Gerakan why they supported UMNO and MCA in 1987 to criticize and attack the DAP Deputy Chairman and MP for Jelutong, Sdr. Karpal Singh, for taking the Selangor Sultan to court to seek a declaration whether the Selangor Sulatan had acted unconstitutionally in stating that he would not pardon drug traffickers.
Sdr. Karpal Singh lost the case in the Kuala Lumpur High Court, as the then Lord Chief Justice, Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Omar, ruled that Article 181 (2) of the Constitution prohibiting “any proceedings whatsoever shall brought against any Ruler in his personal capacity” barred any civil suits against the Rulers personally.
This case was brought up during the recent debate in the special Parliamentary on the 1993 Constitution Amendment Bill. Commenting on this case during his winding-up of the debate, the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, suggested that Karpal Singh should have appealed to the Supreme Court against the High Court decision at the time.
This is strange Prime Ministerial advice six years later, especially as the Attorney-General, Tan Sri Abu Talib, appeared against Sdr. Karpal Singh in this case.
Call to Keng Yaik: Let us act with greater responsibility and statesmanship on the constitutional crisis
At this stage, I interrupted the Prime Minister and reminded him that the case of Karpal Singh summoning the Sultan of Selangor in 1987 was used as one of the reasons for the mass Internal Security Act detention of DAP leaders under Operation Lallang in October 1987, as this was one of the main issues which Special Branch interrogators questioned DAP leaders during the detention. I asked Dr. Mahathir how he could now say that Sdr. Karpal Singh should have appealed further to Supreme Court, when Karpal Singh was one of the DAP leaders detained under the Operation Lalang?
This was Dr. Mahathir response, as contained in the Parliamentary report on January 19:
“Perdana Menteri: Tuan Yang di-Pertua, Ahli Yang Berhomat sepatutnya mengambil kira situasi pada ketika itu. Pada ketika itu timbul ketegangan antara kaum apabila Ahli Yang Berhomat membuat tuduhan terhadap Raja dan orang-orang Melayu terutamanya berasa marah, dan suasana ketika itu menjadi tegang. Tetapi sekarang ini situasi sudah berlainan, dan orang-orang macam kita pun sekarang ini boleh bercakap berkenaan perkara ini..”
DAP leaders had been detained under the Internal Security Act of opposing royal wrongdoings, and we will not condone any such royal misdeeds.
In the present constitutional crisis, however, two issues are involved; a stop to royal wrongdoings and to do it within the constitutional framework through obtaining the consent of the Conference of the Rulers.
If Keng Yaik and the Gerakan dare not support the DAP’s call to the Government and the Rulers to return to the discussion table, they should not be negative, disruptive and destructive by trying to ‘politicise’ the issue in the hope of getting some political mileage for Gerakan.
I would make this call to Keng Yaik and the Gerakan leaders: Let us act with greater responsibility and statesmanship on the current constitutional crisis.