by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Tuesday, 16th February 1993:
Election Commission’s ‘surrender’ a great and historic victory for DAP in its defence of the democratic and constitutional rights of Malaysians
The ‘surrender’ of the Election Commission in my suit challenging the legality and constitutionality of its review of the electoral constituencies – together with the paying of costs by the Election Commission – is a great and historic victory for the DAP in its defence of the democratic and constitutional rights of Malaysians.
When the DAP raised political and constitutional objections to the draft proposals of the Election Commission on the redelineation of electoral constituencies in November last year, the Election Commission Chairman, Datuk Harun Din, had challenged the DAP to takke legal action.
This challenge by the Election Commission Chairman was immediately echoed by the Penang Chief Minister, Dr. Koh Tsu Koon, an this was why I chose the Penang State Assembly on Dec 8 to announce the DAP’s decision to take the Election Commission to court.
The DAP’s main objections to the Election Commission redelineation of the electoral constituencies are:
Firstly, the Election Commission had acted unconstitutionally in conducting its review in disregarding the constitutional provision prohibiting any review until a lapse of a minimum of eight years from the previous review.
The previous review of the electoral constituencies was on November 8, 1984, and this means that the Election Commission could only begin to commence its review of the electoral constituencies after November 8, 1992.
However, although November 9 was a Sunday, by November 10, 1992, the Election Commission had completed its review the redelineation of all the 165 Parliamentary and 452 State Assembly seats in Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah – which was clearly impossible.
This could only mean that the Election Commission had secretly and unconstitutionally started to review the redelineation of the electoral constituencies before the lapse of eight years from the previous reviews in 1984.
Secondly, the Election Commission had acted unconstitutionally in succumbing to the pressure and directive of the Federal Government, in particular UMNO, in its review – which was why the Election Commission was in such an unholy haste to want to complete the redelineation of electoral constituencies in the shortest possible time.
Thirdly, the Election Commission had violated the democratic principle of ‘one-man, one-vote’ in its review and redelineation of electoral constituencies.
The ignominous capitulation of the Election Commission should be a lesson to be Government that it must act according to the law and the Constitution, as the Election Commission’s unconstitutional action could only be caused by two factors:
Firstly, the political pressure placed on the Election Commission to complete the review and redelineation in the shortest possible time to suit UMNO’s political time-table; and
Secondly, the arrogance of power of the Government that it has ‘immunity’ to disregard the law and the Constitution.
This case is further proof that Barisan Nasional component parties like MCA and Gerakan cannot be expected to stand up to UMNO to defend the democratic and constitutional rights of Malaysians. MCA and Gerakan leaders are all ‘yes-man’ and will only ‘talk-big’ about defending the democratic rights of the people when they have received the approval from the UMNO leaders.
As demonstrated by this case, the DAP will continue to defend the democratic and constitutional rights of Malaysians, although there are irresponsible political leaders in the Barisan Nasional who are accusing the DAP of talking an anti-people stand on the issue of the removal of the Rulers’ immunity. Some of them are so irresponsible as to allege that DAP wants the Rulers to have the immunity to beat up and kill people. I challenge these people to produce proof that the DAP had ever advocated that the Rulers must have the immunity to beat up or kill people!
MCA and Gerakan has nothing to compare with the DAP’s track record in fighting and sacrificing for the democratic and constitutional rights of Malaysians
DAP had always supported the removal of the Rulers’ immunity, whether before, during or after the special sitting of Parliament in January. However, DAP MPs abstained in the voting on the 1993 Constitution Amendment Bill on January 19 as the constitution provides that amendments affecting the privileges, position and status of Rulers must secure the consent of the Conference of Rulers if it is to become valid law.
If such an entrenched constitutional clause could be so easily violated, then it could lead to the violation of other entrenched constitutional provisions like those on mother-tongue languages in Article 152 and citizenship rights in Part III of the Malaysian Constitution.
The DAP’s abstention was motivated by our desire to uphold and defend both the democratic and constitutional rights of Malaysians – as we believed at the time that such democratic rights of the people as the removal of the Rulers’ immunity could be achieved through the constitutional process.
However, if the end of the road had been reached and there is no way to get the Conference of Rulers to give its consent so that there could be a valid constitutional amendment to remove the Rulers’ immunity, the DAP had made clear its stand. If a clash between the Rulers and the people was unavoidable, the DAP will definitely stand on the side of the people. This was why I told the Rulers at the special sitting of Parliament last month to heed the aspirations of the people as “finally the will of the people must prevail.”
Malaysia had not reached such a stage and scenario as proved by subsequent developments, as the Rulers were still open to further discussion and consultations.
I hope the MCA and Gerakan leaders will stop their irresponsible politicking, as they cannot compare with the DAP’s track record in the our fight, struggle and sacrifice in the defence of the democratic and constitutional rights of Malaysians.