Government showing contempt for Yang di Pertuan Agong, the Constitution, Parliament and the people of Malaysia in refusing to explain whether the sacking of Anwar Ibrahim from the Cabinet has been done in accordance with the express requirements of the Constitution


Speech
-  Budget '99: Prime Ministerís Department (Committee stage)
by
Lim Kit Siang 
 

(Dewan Rakyat, Wednesday): I am  very disappointed by the reply of the Depuuty Minister in the Prime Ministerís Department, Datuk Mohamed Nazri Aziz on the constitutionality of the removal of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim from the Cabinet on Sept. 2.

Nobody questions the prerogative of the Prime Minister to choose or remove the Cabinet Minister of his choice, but as Malaysia believes in the rule of law, any such Cabinet appointment or removal must be made in accordance with the Constitution if such appointment or removal is to be legal and constitutional.

What Nazri stated in Parliament yesterday was a most dangerous theory which subverts the Constitution as the basic law of the land and the institution of constitutional monarchy.

Nazri claimed that when Article 43(5)  provides that "Ministers other than the Prime Minister shall hold office during the pleasure of the Yang di Pertuan Agong, unless the appointment of any Minister shall have been revoked by the Yang di Pertuan Agong on the advice of the Prime Minister but any Minister may resign his office", there is no need either for the Yang di Pertuan Agong to be advised or for the Yang di Pertuan Agong to act on the advice by way of a royal revocation of the Ministerial appointment which should be gazetted, and that all that is needed is for the Prime Minister to "inform" the Yang di Pertuan Agong of the Prime Ministerís decision.

Nazri supported his stand with the argument declaring that it did not matter whether the Prime Minister had "advised" or "informed" the Yang di Pertuan Agong as "the Yang di Pertuan Agong did not have the right to reject the decision by the Prime Minister, who is elected by the rakyat".

I find this argument most astounding and this was why I had asked Nazri whether this was official the legal and constitutional view of the Attorney-General himself, I hope Nazri will give a clear reply to this in todayís winding-up.

If Nazriís dangerous theory of the Malaysian Constitution is now the official position of the Attorney-General and Government, then the position and office of the Yang di Pertuan Agong has been rendered completely redundant, and in future, the Prime Minister can announce a state of emergency in the country without the Yang di Pertuan Agong having to sign a Proclamation of Emergency on the ground that th Proclamation of Emergency on the ground that the Yang di Pertuan Agong does not have the right to reject the decision of the Prime Minister.

If Nazriís explanation in Parliament yesterday represent the official position of the Government that the clear provisions spelling out the Yang di Pertuan Agongís powers and responsibilities could be overriden on the ground that the Prime Ministerís will is supreme, it may explain why Malaysia is in such a sorry state of affairs in the year 1998 - as it shows the governmentís  contempt for the  Yang di Pertuan Agong, the Constitution, Parliament and the people of Malaysia in refusing to explain whether the sacking of Anwar Ibrahim from the Cabinet  had been  carried out in accordance with the express requirements of the Constitution.

Yesterday, I had asked Nazri whether on Sept. 2, the Yang di Pertuan Agong was "informed" of the Prime Ministerís decision to remove Anwar Ibrahim from the Cabinet by writing or in an audience with the Yang di Pertuan Agong, and Nazri said he required notice and I hope he would be able to give a reply during the winding up later today.
 

Mahathir should heed the advice of former Deputy Prime Minister, Tan Sri Musa Hitam to seek a political solution to the current political crisis in the country

One reason why Malaysia is now facing a political crisis of the first magnitude is because of the government  contempt for the constitution, the rule of law, rules of natural justice, democracy and human rights of Malaysians which has become worse over the years, particularly after the Barisan Nasional landslide  victory in the 1995 general elections.

The government, including Nazri yesterday, have denied any political crisis in the country.

In my speech during the policy debate on the 1999 Budget, I   had said that the  1999 Budget  had been completely overshadowed by the political turmoils in the past  two months, highlighting the importance of the political fundamentals which must be addressed if the problems  of confidence- restoration and the worst economic crisis in the nationís history are to be successfully overcome.

I told Parliament that the political crisis in the country was not just about the unprecedented sacking, detention and heinous allegations levelled against former Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, but goes beyond the case of Anwar Ibrahim and concerns the deep-seated hopes and aspirations of Malaysians for justice, freedom, democracy and good governance.

Furthermore, the political crisis of confidence is very deep-seated, as it is the cumulation of the peopleís frustrations over the years,  and the time  has come for the expansion of democratic space in Malaysia for the people to peacefully gather and demonstrate their aspirations for justice, freedom, democracy and good governance.

I also made very clear the DAPís stand against  violence, both against peaceful demonstrators, innocent members of the public and the police, as completely unsuitable and unacceptable in  Malaysiaís plural society.

I had made two proposals for the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad to resolve the grave political crisis of confidence, credibility and legitimacy: either  to dissolve Parliament and call for new general elections to seek a clear national  mandate from the people, or to convene  an All-Party/NGOs Roundtable Conference to chart out a new political blueprint that can assure for all Malaysians greater democratic space, freedom and justice in the country.

I note that the former Deputy Prime Minister, Tan Sri Musa Hitam (the only other Home Minister in the 17-year Mahathir administration) on of similar frame of mind, as can be seen   in his interview with Mingguan Malaysia on 1st November 1998  where he pinpointed intolerance to criticism as a basic cause of the present  political crisis  and advocated a political solution to the political crisis.

He said:  "Secara peribadi, saya berpendapat bahawa kurangnya sikap toleransi dan penerimaan  terhadap kritikan inilah yang mencetuskan begitu banyak konflik politik dan akhirnya  menyaksikan keadaan seperti yang berlaku akhir-akhir nya."

In his interview with Sin Chew Jit Poh last weekend, Musa Hitam made two important points: firstly,  that "demonstration is no great matter - but quite commonplace" and that demonstrations need not degenerate into violence if channels of communications are opened up; and secondly, that the reformasi demonstrations are not racial but multi-racial in character.
Mahathir should heed the advice of former Deputy Prime Minister, Tan Sri Musa Hitam to seek a political solution to the current political crisis in the country - not through a show of  massive police force but democratisation of the political process to win the hearts and minds of Malaysians.

I would suggest that the Prime Minister should draft Musa Hitam and other prominent and concerned Malaysians into a national commission  to propose a democratic solution to the ballooning political crisis which is highly injurious to Malaysiaís international reputation and poses a great obstacle to national economic recovery.
 

APEC should be the crowning glory for Mahathirís 17-year premiership but is proving to be a great personal, national and international embarrassment

The APEC Summit next week should be the crowning glory of Mahathirís 17-year premiership, but it is proving to be a great personal, national and international embarrassment.

Last week, Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien was  another  Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) who  pointedly decided not to hold bilateral talks with the Malaysian Prime Minister in Kuala Lumpur during his visit for the APEC forum to protest against the governmentís treatment of former Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

Although Malaysian Ministers have claimed that APEC is an economic and not a political gathering, Mahathir must demonstrate the governmentís commitment to uphold human rights, democracy and rule of law especially as  1998 is the International Year of Human Rights.

On the Anti-Corruption Agency, why is there still no Director-General for the ACA.  It is most unfortunate that the ACA seems to have become a football in the power struggle between the Prime Minister and his former deputy.

The government should give clear explanation about the various allegations made recently, including the allegation concerning the Bank Negara Governor Tan Sri Ali Abul Hassan that an ACA raid when he was Director-General of Economic Planning Unit found RM100,000 cash in his possesion which he could not explain or the statement by Anwar Ibrahim yesterday that the Malaysian Resources Corporation Bhd (MRCB) has a trust relationship with UMNO, with the Prime Minister holding 80 percent  of MRCB shares as  trustee for UMNO in his capacity as UMNO President and that millions of ringgit have disappeared.  Have the ACA investigated into all these allegations and what is their outcome?

Finally, on the controversy over the RM200 million new Prime Ministerís residence at Putrajaya. Although the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Ministerís Department have claimed that it costs RM17 million, the former Deputy Prime Minister has maintained that it cost RM200 million.

In view of this, is the government prepared to have a public and independent inquiry to establish the truth to show that the government has nothing to hide?

(11/11/98)


*Lim Kit Siang - Malaysian Parliamentary Opposition Leader, Democratic Action Party Secretary-General & Member of Parliament for Tanjong