by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Tuesday, March 23, 1993:
If Mahathir wants the Special Court for Rulers to adjudicate the Kelantan throne issue as well as other state throne claims, then he must introduce another Constitution Amendment Bill to Parliament which would also require the consent of the Conference of Rulers
It is clear that the statement by the Prime Minister, Datuk Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, in Kota Bahre last Friday that the Kelantan throne issue could be adjudicated by the Special Court for the Rulers under the 1993 Constitution Amendment Bill is a purely political one, and not one which is the result of the considered advice of the Attorney-General, Tan Sri Abu Talib Othman.
In fact, the Cabinet Ministers would themselves have been surprised and shocked if at any time before the 1993 Constitution Amendment Bill had been passed a second time by both Houses of Parliament on March 8 – 10, it had been suggested that the Special Court for Rulers would be able to adjudicate on disputes or claims over succession to the thrones of the various states with the power to dethrone Sultans and instal new Rulers.
This was why the Deputy Prime Minister, Ghafar Baba made it very clear one week after the Kelantan throne issue had been raised that the validity of the appointment of the Sultan of Kelantan should be left to the State Government and the State Succession Council to decide.
Speaking to reporters after chairing the National Land Council meeting on l6th March 1993, Ghafar said that the Federal Government cannot get involved in the issue since every State had its own system of appointing its Rulers.
He said that in the case of Kelantan, it was left to the State Succession Council and the State Government. He added that the Federal Government had no plans to discuss the issue in the Cabinet nor take any action over the issue.
Three days later, however, Dr. Mahathir changed the Federal Government position and indicated during his visit to Kelantan that the Federal Government might intervene in the Kelantan throne issue by having it adjudicated by the Special Court for the Rulers.
What is the reason for the change of the Federal Government stand in a matter of three days, from Ghafar Baba’s position on March 16 that the Federal Government cannot get involved in the issue to Dr. Mahathir’s stand on March 19 that the Federal Government could intervene in the issue.
The question as to whether the Special Court for Rulers can adjudicate on disputes to the thrones of the various states, dethrone Sultans and instal new Rulers, is not a political issue, depending on the political decision-making of the Prime Minister overruling the Deputy Minister.
Such questions involve the law and the constitution. As the Cabinet, Parliament and the Conference of Rulers had never intended the Special Court for Rulers under the 1993 Constitution Amendment Bill to adjudicate in disputes concerning claims to the thrones of the various states, the Prime Minister cannot give the Special Court for Rulers such powers and jurisdiction by his own interpretation.
This is high dangerous practice, as it would constitute a gross bad faith on the part of the Government in its discussions and consultations with the Conference of Rulers with regard to the 1993 Constitution Amendment Bill.
If Dr. Mahathir now wants the Special Court for Rulers to have the additional power and jurisdiction to adjudicate the Kelantan throne issue as well as the throne issues of the other states, and to dethrone Sultans and instal new Rulers, then he should introduce a new constitution amendment bill to Parliament in its next sitting starting on April 26.
As such a constitution amendment would affect the position, status and dignities of the Malay Rulers, it would require the consent of the Conference of the Rulers as well as provided under article 38(4) of the Federal Constitution.