by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Thursday, February 17, 1993:
DAP calls for a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the great political scandal as to how Parliament and the various State Assemblies were misled to holds emergency sittings to amend the Federal and State Constitutions to increase parliamentary and state assembly constituencies
The Election Commission Chairman, Datuk Harun Din, yesterday claimed that the cancellation of its exercise to review and redelineate parliamentary and state assembly constituencies in the country has no connection with my legal action against the Election Commission challenging the legality and constitutionality of its review and redelineation exercise.
I challenge Datuk Harun Din to declare when the Election Commission discovered that it had acted illegality and unconstitutionally in its review and redelineation exercise – before or after I had filed legal action against the Election Commission?
In my statement of claim, I had said that whether acting under Article 113(2) or Article 113(3A), the Election Commission had acted illegally and unconstitutionally.
This is because if the Election Commission had acted under Article 113(2), it had violated the constitutional stipulation that the Election Commission could not commence any review until a lapse of a minimum of eight years from the previous reviews. In this case, the Election Commission completed its review of 165 Parliamentary and 452 State Assembly seats on November 10, 1992 in a matter of two days (one of which was a Sunday), showing that it had secretly and unconstitutionally started review of redelineation well before the lapse of a minimum of eight years from the previous review.
Datuk Harun Din had opened ‘a can of political worms’ in his attempt to explain that the cancellation of the review has no connection with DAP’s legal challenge
If the Election Commission had acted under Article 113(3A), because of the increase of the number of parliamentary and state assembly seats by Parliament and the various state assemblies, it had also acted illegality and unconstitutionally as the Kelantan, Perak, Johore and Malacca State Constitution Amendment Bills to increase state assembly seats had not yet been given the Royal Assent and gazetted to become law by November 10, 1992.
I am glad that the Election Commission Chairman, Datuk Harun Din, has now realized and admitted that there is now no way whereby the Election Commission can claim to have acted lawfully and constitutionally in its review and redelineation exercise whether under Article 113(2) or Article 113(3A) – and this is the real reason why the Election Commission had surrendered in the Kuala Lumpur High Court yesterday to my legal challenge, by canceling the review and redelineation exercise.
Datuk Harun Din did not realize that his attempt to explain that the cancellation of the review and redelineation exercise as having nothing to do with my legal challenge had opened a ‘can of political worms’.
This is what Datuk Harun Din said yesterday (Berita Harian 17.2.1993):
“Saya mengaku SPR bertanggungjawab sepenuhnya terhadap pembatalan itu kerana tidak menyedari mengenai pertindihan undang-undang sebelum notis awal dikeluarkan pada 19hb November tahun lalu.
“Parlimen meluluskan Akta A837 (meminda perlembagaan untuk menambahkan 12 kerusi parliamen baru) beberapa hari ini sebelum SPR mengumumkan persempadanan baru itu”.
From Datuk Harun Din’s explanation, one gets the impression that the present legal tangle was created by Parliament in failing to co-ordinate with the Election Commission in amending the Federal Constitution to increase 12 new parliamentary seats, just before the Election Commission issued its notice on the review and redelineation exercise.
Is Datuk Harun Din suggesting that Parliament should now repeal Act A 837 on the 1992 Constitution Amendment Act so that the Election Commission could proceed to review the redelineation of electoral constituencies under Article 113(2) of the Federal Constitution. Or is he suggesting that Parliament should pass a further constitutional amendment to legalise a review under Article 113(3A)?
This may be why the Minister for Justice, Datuk Syed Hamid Albar, was quoted in the Berita Harian today as saying that the Government was reviewing the 1992 Constitution Amendment Act which increased 12 Parliamentary seats.
But who is responsible for this legal and constitutional mess – Election Commission or Parliament, or somebody else?
Malaysians can still remember that at the end of October, the Minister of Justice, Datuk Syed Hamid Albar, said that the Government was proposing constitutional amendments to increase 12 parliamentary seats on the recommendation of the Election Commission.
This was why the Senate held an emergency sitting on October 27 to pass the 1992 Constitution Amendment Bill.
This was also the reason why all the State Assemblies in Peninsular Malaysia (except for Trengganu and Kelantan) held emergency meetings to put into effect the Election Commission’s recommendations on the increase of State Assembly seats in their respective states. The Penang Chief Minister, Dr. Koh Teu Koon, told the Penang State Assembly that it was the Election Commission which recommended the increase of three new state assembly seats for Penang, which was rejected by the DAP’s 13 Assemblymen.
How can Datuk Harun Din now claim or suggest that the Election Commission is now in a legal and constitutional mess because of the actions of Parliament and the State Assemblies arising from the conflicting provisions in Article 113(2) and Article 113(3A).
DAP calls for a Royal Commission of Inquiry into this great political scandal to find out how Parliament and the various State Assemblies had been misled to hold emergency meetings to amend the Federal and State Constitutions to increase the number of parliamentary and state assembly seats, when such constitutional amendments are defective in constitutional law and there is no cause for such emergency meeting.
The people has a right to demand full accountability and transparency as to how such a great political scandal affecting the integrity, credibility and honour of the Election Commission could occur.
In countries where there is public accountability, there will not only be a lot of red faces in top places in government, but many resignations and dismissals as well for such a shocking political and constitutional scandal.