Summoning of Parliament and Penang State Assembly before the respective  Cabinet  and State Exco had met to  decide on  them  unconstitutional and unlawful

Media Conference Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya,  Tuesday): Parliament public relations officer Ahmad Asri Zakari announced in the press today that the Dewan Rakyat will sit on Monday which will start with the selection of a Speaker, two Deputy Speakers and the swearing-in of Parliament.

Parliament this morning sent out notices by pos laju to all the 193 new MPs on  Monday’s meeting following a proclamation summoning Parliament by the Yang di Pertuan Agong.

Monday’s parliamentary meeting is unconstitutional and unlawful as the Proclamation by the Yang di Pertuan Agong summoning a meeting of Parliament on Monday did not abide by the provisions of the Constitution.

Article 55 of the Constitution vests power on the Yang di Pertuan Agong to summon Parliament, but Article 40 provides that in exercising his functions, the Yang di Pertuan Agong shall act in accordance with the advice of the Cabinet, except for three specific matters where he "may act in his discretion", namely:

(a)  the appointment of a Prime Minister;
(b)  the withholding of consent to a request for a dissolution of Parliament;
(c)  the requisitioning of a meeting of the Conference of Rulers concerned solely with the privileges, position, honours and dignities of Their Royal Highnesses, and any action at such a meeting.

The Yang di Pertuan Agong has no "discretion" but must act on Cabinet advice on the summoning of Parliament.  However, the new Cabinet Ministers were only sworn in today and had not met yet, and there could therefore be no Cabinet advice to the Yang di Pertuan Agong to summon Parliament to meet on Monday by way of a proclamation.

In the circumstances, Monday’s Parliament meeting to elect a Speaker and swear in the 193 new MPs are unconstitutional and unlawful, and the MPs’ oath of office  taken at such an unconstitutional Parliamentary meeting would be null and void and of no effect.

Under Article 59 (1) a MP must take his oath of office before he could take his seat in Parliament although there is a special proviso for a member to take part in the election of the Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat before taking the oath.

If Parliament’s Monday meeting is not regularised to make it lawful in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution, then the 193 new MPs who took an illegal oath of office run the risk of being challenged in court for having vacated their parliamentary seats as MPs who do not take their oath of office six months after Parliament has met would have deemed to have vacated their seats, resulting in a whole series of by-elections in the country.

By the same constitutional principles, the Penang State Assembly meeting which has been convened to meet on Saturday, 18th December 1999 and to a budget meeting on Monday, 20th December 1999 are also unconstitutional and unlawful as the Penang Yang di Pertua Negeri can only act on the advice of the State Executive Council, which had been still-born as a result of the Barisan Nasional crisis over the MCA’s demand for a second Deputy Chief Minister and additional Exco seats.

If the Barisan Nasional leadership is  to start off the new Parliament and Penang State Assembly in utter disregard of the Constitution and the law because it had succeeded in retaining its political hegemony and two-thirds majority, the next five years are going to be very bleak ones in terms of justice, freedom, democracy and good governance.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman