By Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjong, Lim Kit Siang, in Penang on Friday , January 28th, 1994:
DAP calls for establishment of a Parliamentary Select Committee on the Malaysia Constitution which should first consider all proposed amendments to the Constitution before they are tabled in Parliament
The Law Minister , Datuk Syed Hamid Albar has said that the Government would review the Federal Constitution and might propose an amendment to the Constitution to provide that the offence rather than the sentence determine the disqualification of a person to hold elective office whether as Member of Parliament or State Assemblymen.
Syed Hamid said that disqualification from elective office should not be determined by the amount of fine or the term of imprisonment , but whether it was a serious criminal offence involving qualities like personal truth worthiness , integrity and credibility.
He said the government might that a person convicted of a statutory crime such as breach of trust , cheating or corruption must be disqualified from contesting in an election.
It is clear that this is the latest political development in the unhappiness publicly expressed by the Prime mInister , Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad over the RM 1800 fine imposed by the Jota Kinabalu High Court after finding Sabah Chief Minister , Datuk Joseph Pairin Kitingan , guilty of corruption.
With this fine, which is RM 200 short of the RM 2000 fine which would disquality Pairin from continuing as Chief Minister and holding elective offices like MP and Assembly man , the Barisan Nasional ‘s well laid plans for Sabah had been completely scuttled .
Amendments to the Constitution should not be motivated by political consideration , which could vary from day to day – as seem from the political turmoil going on in Sabah political landscape today.
The last time the Federal Constitution was amended was purely motivated by political consideration , when the Federal Government wanted to appoint Tun Mustaoha as Minister for Sabah Affairs without having to cause a by-election in the Sabah state assembly seat of Usukan as required by the Constitution.
In the event , Tun Mustapha resigned not only as Mnister for Sabah Affairs but also quit UMNO – making the whole process of amending the Federal Constitution for such purpose in retrospect looking most foolish and purposeless.
DAP calls for the establishment of a Parliamentary Select Committee on the Malaysian Constitution which should first consider all proposals to amend the Constitution before they are tabled in Parliament.
This preview process would minimize the tendency to amend the Constitution at the political whim and fancy of the ruling parties.
While DAP agress that the issue of integrity and truthworthniness should be central on the question of whether a person should be disqualified from holding elective office , it is important that the whole question of disqualified of a person from holding elective office should be reviewes in its totality.
Any amendment must not be seen as influenced by political bias of the ruling parties to persecute the oppsotion , while Barisan Nasional Leaders , in particular ministers , Mentri-mentri Besar and Chief Ministers , enjoyed virtual immunity from prosecution for corruption and abuses of power.
This review should consider , among other things , the following issues:
Whether the offence rather than the sentence be the determining factor of disqualification in certain cases involving corruption and moral turpitude;
Whether for other criminal offences , the sentence be the determining factor , and it so , whether the RM 2000 fine should be raised in view of the fact that it is nearly 40 years since it was written into the Constitution ; and
What measures ate taken to stop the ‘selective prosecution ‘ of political leaders , where opposition leaders are persecuted while Barisan Nasional leaders enjoy virtual immunity.