Mahathir should make clear whether he is going to accept Ghafar Baba’s advice to hold general election next year or dissolve Parliament in mid-stream wasting public funds and MPs’ time

DAP forum on "Create a new world through national unity"
Lim Kit Siang 

(Ayer Tawar, Tuesday): Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad should make clear whether he is going to accept the advice of former Deputy Prime Minister, Tun Ghafar Baba, to hold general election early next year purportedly "to give enough time for the Opposition to run out of issues before calling an election".

Ghafar said yesterday that this would give time for the people "to come to their senses and decide on the best for themselves and their children" and that "If the timing is right Barisan Nasional can win big".

It is the prerogative of the Prime Minister to decide when to dissolve Parliament, but this prerogative must not be exercised in utter disregard of acceptable parliamentary practices.

The conventional  wisdom is that Mahathir would dissolve Parliament after the presentation of the 2,000 Budget on Oct. 29, 1999 with polling day falling in the month of November.

Although there is nothing in law or the constitution prohibiting the dissolution of Parliament when meeting in mid-session, this is only justifiable if there is a constitutional or political crisis, as the government suddenly losing its simple majority or out-voted in a confidence motion.  This is not the case, as with five-sixth parliamentary majority, the present Barisan Nasional government has a rock-solid  and unshakeable majority.

In the absence of unavoidable circumstances in requiring the dissolution of Parliament in mid-session, it is most improper for  Parliament to be dissolved in mid-session, as this will be a waste of taxpayers’ money and waste of MPs’ time, as the two or three weeks of parliamentary meeting before the dissolution would be a total waste, as all the bills and motions  enacted would lapse and have to be re-enacted or re-passed in the new Parliament.

Parliament and the nation are entitled to a clear answer from Mahathir – whether he is going to waste taxpayers’ money and MP’s time to dissolve Parliament in mid-session, which can only reflect a sense of political desperation that the Barisan Nasional may not be able to preserve its two-thirds parliamentary majority in the next election.

Ghafar Baba has accepted the possibility that the Barisan Nasional would lose two-thirds majority in Parliament, when he  said yesterday that even if the Barisan Nasional does not win a two-thirds parliamentary majority in the next election, it would still be a strong government.

I agree with Ghafar Baba that losing a two-third parliamentary majority in the next election does not mean that there would be a weak government.  If the Opposition collectively gets say 73 seats out of 193 seats, the Barisan Nasional would still win 120 seats giving it a 53-seat majority, which would be a very strong majority  rarely seen in other  parliamentary governments in the rest of the world.

Barisan Nasional leaders should therefore stop threatening the Malaysian voters that there would be another May 13 or racial riots if the Barisan Nasional loses its two-thirds majority in Parliament.


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