by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Friday, 19th February 1993:
Mahathir makes the illogical call that I should resign out of anger and knowledge that the cancellation of the constituency redelineation exercise is not because of a ‘minor technical problem’ but due to ‘major constitutional improprieties’
When Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed returned from Pakistan yesterday, he made the illogical call that I should resign, when he should instead have thanked me for filing legal action which stopped the Election Commission from acting illegally and unconstitutionally in its constituency redelineation exercise.
However, I can understand his annoyance, humiliation and anger at the unprecedented cancellation of the Election Commission’s Constituency redelineation exercise, because he should know more than anybody else that the cancellation is not because of any ‘minor technical problem’ as the Election Commission Chairman, Datuk Harun Din, wants the people to believe – but due to major constitutional improprieties.
Dr. Mahathir said yesterday that there should be room for some flexibility in dealing with minor technical problems. He said some of the “technicalities” included mistakes such as dates and certain papers which did not bear a signature.
Datuk Harun Din should explain whether the ‘technical oversight’ for which the Election Commission had to cancel the constituency redelineation exercise was because of such mistakes like dates and missing signatures?
I have documents in my possession – which I would have produced in the Kuala Lumpur High Court if the Election Commission had not surrendered and cancelled the redelineation exercise – proving that by Nov 10, 1992, the Election Commission had finalized, signed and sealed its recommendations on the boundaries, maps and electoral districts for the redelineations of 165 Parliamentary and 452 State Assembly. This is my proof that the Election Commission took only two days (one of which was a Sunday) to complete its redelineation of 165 Parliamentary and 452 State Assembly constituencies.
Is Datuk Harun Din suggesting that this is the ‘minor technical problem’ which had compelled the Election Commission to cancel its redelineation exercise, on the ground that the date of Nov 10 had been wrongly stated.
This excuse is unthinkable and Datuk Harun Din knows it and this is why he dare not make such a claim in the High Court and prefers to surrender and pay for my legal costs.
The trouble with the Election Commission is that it is not prepared to admit that as a result of the DAP legal suit, it had been caught red-handed in having acted illegally and unconstitutionally in its constituency redelineation exercise.
As a result, the Election Commission had to resort to the excuse that it had committed ‘a technical oversight’ to justify its cancellation of the redelineation exercise – although the fact that it had readily agreed to [ay for its costs of my legal action speaks louder than words.
What is this ‘legal oversight’ or ‘minor technical problem’ which is being used as an excuse to cancel the redelineation exercise, so that the Election Commission need not contest the DAP legal suit and be exposed to have acted illegality and unconstitutionally?
Up to now, Datuk Harun Din has blamed the ‘technical oversight’ on section 3 of the 1992 Constitution Amendment Act which was passed by the Dewan Rakyat on October 21 and an emergency meeting of the Dewan Negara on October 27, 1992.
Datuk Harun Din wants the people to believe that as a result of a ‘technical oversight’, the Election Commission’s redelineation under Article 113(2) of the Federal Constitution had become illegal and unconstitutional because Parliament had increased 12 new parliamentary seats.
A study of section 3 of the 1992 Constitution Amendment Act will show that Datuk Harun Din’s claim has no basis whatsoever.
Election Commission is wrong in using Section 3 of the 1992 Constitution Amendment Act as an excuse to cancel its redelineation exercise as it in fact an enabling provision to allow the Election Commission to proceed both under Article 113(2) and Article 113(3A)
In fact, Section 3 is an enabling provision whereby the Election Commission can proceed under Article 113(3A) even though it had commenced its review under Article 113(2).
As the explanatory statement in the 1992 Constitution Amendment Bill explained the meaning of Section 3, “it requires the Election Commission to undertake the review referred to in Clause (3A) of Article 113 of the Federal Constitution or, if such review under Clause (2) of Article 113 has already commenced at the date of publication of this Act in the Gazette, to continue with the review, and recommend such changes as are considered necessary to give effect to the provisions of Article 46 of the Federal Constitution, as amerided, and the Thirteenth Schedule of the Federal Constitution.
The amendments to Article 46 refers to the increase of 12 new Parliamentary constituencies for Peninsular Malaysia.
It is very clear therefore that Section 3 of the 1992 Constitution Amendment Act cannot be used by the Election Commission as an excuse to cancel the redelineation exercise at all, as it is in fact an enabling provision allowing the Election Commission to proceed in its redelineation exercise both under Article 113(2) and Article 113(3A).
There is nothing wrong with Section 3 of the 1992 Constitution Amendment Act, but everything wrong with the illegal and unconstitutional manner in which the Election Commission conducted the redelineation exercise, whether under Article 113(2) or Article 113(3A).
Election Commission can now proceed but refuse to review and redelineate electoral constituencies without any amendment to Section 3 of the 1992 Constitution Amendment Act as this will tantamount to admitting that DAP was right all along
There is therefore no ‘technical oversight’ over Section 3 of the 1992 Constitution Amendment Act, but gross constitutional improprieties by the Election Commission in violating Article 113(2) and 113(3A) in its November redelineation of the 165 Parliamentary and 452 State Assembly constituencies.
The Election Commission is only using Section 3 of the 1992 Constitution Amendment Act as a scapegoat for its illegal and unconstitutional action when there is nothing wrong with it and there is no need for it to be repealed or amended.
In fact, the Election Commission can now proceed to review and redelineate electoral constituencies without any amendment to Section 3 of the 1992 Constitution Amendment Act, but it has refused to do so, as this will tantamount to admitting that the DAP had been right all along.
This is why I had called for the resignation of Datuk Harun Din as Election Commission Chairman or his removal from the post. If the Election Commission had truly committed a ‘technical oversight’ or ‘minor technical problem’ like putting the wrong date, I would agree that it should be treated as a technical mistake.
But gross constitutional improprieties cannot be treated as ‘small technical problems’, especially when the Election Commission has the constitutional duty to act independently and fairly to uphold the democratic process.
I do not believe Dr. Mahathir can really explain that the cancellation of the redelineation exercise is the result of ‘minor technical problems’ and not gross constitutional improprieties.
Mahathir in bad tempt because everytime he returns from overseas, the overseas, the country is in a worse mess
This is why his outburst against me, calling on me to resign, is uncalled-for an d unworthy of him. However, I can understand that Dr. Mahathir cannot be in the highest of spirits when he returned from his visit to Bangladesh and Pakistan yesterday.
Mahathir was clearly not in a good when he stepped down from the plane at the Subang Airport yesterday, and he had good reasons to be in bad temper as everytime he returned from an overseas trip, the country seemed to be in a worse mess.
On a previous occasion, there was the disgraceful second Subang International Airport fire in six months when he was overseas. On another occasion, he returned home to a September 29 nation-wide power blackout last year which he said ‘should never have happened’.
Yesterday, he returned not only to the humiliation of the unprecedented cancellation of the constituency redelineation exercise, but the further shame of the country being hit by regular power black-outs!