by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Wednesday, 24th March 1993:
1993 Constitution Amendment Act should mark a new era of Ruler-people relationship
DAP welcomes the Royal Assent of the Yang di Pertuan Agong to the 1993 Constitution Amendment Bill.
With the Royal Assent, DAP hopes that the 1993 Constitution Amendment Act would mark a new era of Ruler-people relationship in Malaysia.
The 1993 Constitutional Amendment Act, which brought the Rulers within the purview of the law in removing their immunity to commit criminal and civil wrongdoings, should be the first step of a comprehensive democratisation process in Malaysia.
If the 1993 Constitution Amendment Act is not the forerunner of such a comprehensive democratisation process, then history would probably record that the real winner of tile 1993 Constitution Amendment Act are not the people of Malaysia but the political leadership in government who have acquired greater power and immunity in the process.
Already, the people can see that in the past few months, the removal of the Rulers’ immunity to commit criminal and civil wrongdoings seems to be accompanied by a new immunity from accountability of the political leadership in government – whether it be the MAIKA Telekom shares hijacking scandal or national energy crisis involving the Minister for Energy, Telecommunications and Post, Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu, or the three Subang International Airport security scandals in less than a year involving the Minister for Transport, Datuk Dr. Ling Liong Sik.
Call on the Prime Minister to undertake a democratisation of Malaysia in keeping with the spirit of the 1993 Constitution Amendment Act
DAP calls on the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, to undertake a democratisation of Malaysia in keeping with the spirit of the 1993 Constitution Amendment Act.
For a start, the Prime Minister should draw up a new guideline for all Cabinet Ministers on their responsibility and accountability to the people for their Ministerial duties. The present practice where Ministers act with utter indifferences despite exceeding their quota of scandals in their Ministry is clearly unacceptable.
Secondly, all repressive laws which violate the democratic, liberties and human rights of Malaysians should be repealed, and these legislation include the Internal Act, the Official Secrets Act, the Printing Presses and Publications Act, the Sedition Act and the Police Act.
Thirdly, Parliament must be restored its full meaning and purpose as the highest legislative and deliberative chamber in the country, instead of just being a rubber for the Prime Minister’s Department.
In his comment yesterday on the Royal Assent given by the Yang di Pertuan Agong for the 1993 Constitution Amendment Bill, the MCA President, Datuk Dr. Ling Liong Sik, made gratuitous remarks about the DAP, claiming that he did not understand the attitude and behaviour of the DAP, in first abstaining during the January Parliament and then giving support in the March Parliament.
Liong Sik’s comments only highlight the marginal political role of the MCA in the Barisan Nasional, whose Ministers and MPs are mere ‘yes-men’ in Cabinet and Parliament.
The DAP’s stand on the 1993 Constitution Amendment Bill had always been principled and consistent, and the DAP stand on the 1993 Constitution Amendment Bill has been proved right when the Government returned to the discussion table with the Conference of Rulers in February to get its consent to the Bill.
DAP is prepared and ready to defend our consistent and principled stand on the 1993 Constitution Amendment Bill any time, but is Liong Sik ready to publicly defend his scandalous Ministerial record of having three Subang International Airport security scandal in less than a year?
The Government should present a White Paper in the April Parliament on how it is spending the RM1 billion saved from the withdrawal of privileges, allocations and other entitlements to the Rulers other than those provided for by the law.
DAP had asked that this RMl billion saved from the withdrawal of perks to Rulers should be used to abolish hard-core poverty affecting 300,000 people, as well as rural poverty and socio-economic and educational backwardness.
For this reason, I had suggested that RM200 million from the savings from the withdrawal of perks to the Rulers should be used to raise educational standards of the rural schoolchildren, and this will definitely be more effective and purposeful than the MCA’s Langkawi Project.
Call on Mahathir to clearly state whether he is insisting that the Special Court for Rulers cars adjudicate on disputes to the throne in the various states, dethrone Sultans and install new Rulers?
What is unfortunate is that the Royal Assent to the 1993 Constitution Amendment Bill came at a time when there is a new controversy over the Special Court for the Rulers.
The Prime Minister has contradicted the Deputy Prime Minister, Ghafar Baba, by claiming that the Special Court for Rulers can adjudicate the Kelantan throne issue as well as disputes affecting claims to the throne of other states.
This means that the Special Court for Rulers set lip under the 1993 Constitution Amendment Act has the power to dethrone Sultans and instal new Rulers – a power and jurisdiction which have never been in the minds of the MPs, Cabinet Ministers and the Conference of Rulers when agreeing to the provision on the Special Court for Rulers.
Such an interpretation is completely without basis, and I call on Dr. Mahathir to state clearly whether he is insisting that the Special Court far Rulers has the power to adjudicate claims to the throne of the various states, dethrone Sultans and instal new Rulers.
I am disappointed that the Attorney-General, Tan Sri Abu Talib, has to date chosen to remain silent on this issue. Does this connote that Tan Sri Abu Talib disagrees with the Prime Minister, but he does not want to publicly disagree with Dr. Mahathir?