Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, when officiating at the joint opening of five DAP Branches Sibu Parliamentary Constituency at the Sibu DAP action centre on Tuesday, 1st June 1993 at 10 p.m.
DAP calls on the lowering of the voting age so that 18 year-olds can vote in the next general elections
In Malaysia, a person reaches the age of majority when he becomes 18 years of age, which gives him the right to take independent legal decisions, like getting married and entering into contractual relationships.
It is only right and proper therefore that the voting age in Malaysia should be lowered from the present 21 years to 18 years, especially as the youngsters in Malaysia comprise the majority of the Malaysian population.
Recently, African National Congress (ANC) leader, Nelson Mandela, suggested the lowering of the voting age in South Africa to 14 years old.
I am not suggesting that 14-year-olds in Malaysia should be given the voting right, but clearly, the lowering of the voting age to 18 years cannot be dismissed as a decadent Western concept unless the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed is suggesting that Nelson Mandela has become a Western stooge.
DAP therefore calls for the lowering of the voting age so that 18-year-olds can be given the vote in the next general elections.
Such changes are definitely more important and urgent than the proposal to amend the Federal Constitution just to allow Tun Mustapha to keep his Usukan State Assembly seat in Sabah while accepting the appointment as Federal Minister for Sabah Affairs.
Dr. Mahathir had clearly made a gross political misjudgment when he announced the appointment of Tun Mustapha as Minister for Sabah Affairs.
If Tun Mustapha is too ill to attend the Sabah UMNO Harvest Day celebrations, how could he perform his Cabinet duties
It is clear that Dr. Mahathir had not realized that Tun Mustapha had to resign his Usukan State Assembly seat on his appointment as Minister for Sabah Affairs.
I had pointed out at the time that Dr. Mahathir had two options before him – one, to face a by-election in Usukan state assembly seat which Sabah UMNO has no confidence of winning or two, to amend Article 43(8) of the Federal Constitution just to allow one person to become Federal Minister without having to resign as State Assemblyman.
The Federal Constitution will become the laughing stock in the country and the world if it is amended just to accommodate one person to be appointed to the Federal Cabinet, especially when it is obvious to everybody that Tun Mustapha, who is 75, is too ill to accept any appointment to public office.
Tun Mustapha was conspicuously absent in the Sabah UMNO Harvest Day celebrations presided over by Dr. Mahathir in Kota Kinabalu last weekend. If Tun Mustapha is too ill to attend the Sabah UMNO Harvest Day celebrations, how could he perform his Cabinet duties if he takes his oth of office as Federal Minister?
The amendment of the Federal Constitution just to allow Tun Mustapha to be appointed Federal Minister will be a powerful proof of the danger of giving the Barisan Nasional two-thirds majority in Parliament, when it could indiscriminately abuse such two-thirds majority to amend the Federal Constitution at its whim and fancy.
Dr. Mahathir cannot plead national interests for such a constitutional amendment, and I have no doubt that if the Prime Minister goes through with such a constitutional amendment just for one person, it would create such public disgust that it would prove to be the end of two-thirds majority in Parliament for the Barisan Nasional in the next general elections.
Tun Mustapha’s position as Cabinet Minister may remain in a suspended void until next general elections
Dr. Mahathir must be aware of the public revulsion that would be created by such a constitutional amendment, and this is why he is hesitating whether to proceed with the earlier idea to summon a special sitting of Parliament before he leaves for his visit to China on June 13 to effect such a constitutional amendment.
As a result of this development, there may be a third option open to Dr. Mahathir on the question of Tun Mustapha’s appointment as Minister for Sabah Affairs – to leave it in a suspended void until next general elections where Tun Mustapha does not take his oath of office and need not resign as Usukan State Assemblyman.
This will not be the first time Tun Mustapha would be appointed a Federal Minister without ever assuming the Cabinet position. In 1975, Tun Mustapha was appointed as Deference Minster by the then Prime Minister, Tun Razak, but Tun Mustapha never took his oath of office for this appointment.
Now, Tun Mustapha may be repeating his own history, where he had been appointed Minister for Sabah Affairs, which again, he would probably never take his oath of office.
Tun Mustapha would then be the only person to be appointed to the Federal Cabinet not to take his oath of office – not once, but twice in his political career.