This was why I had proposed as to how tomorrow’s Parliamentary meeting, which had been summoned not in accordance with the Constitution could be regularised so that the election of the new Speaker and the oath-taking by the 193 new MPs could proceed as scheduled without being challenged as unconstitutional, null and void and of no effect.
The Parliamentary meeting tomorrow is not in accordance with the Constitution as it had been summoned in in violation of Article 40 of the Constitution which provides that the Yang di Pertuan Agong, in exercising his functions, shall act in accordance with the advice of the Cabinet.
Someone had wrongly advised the Yang di Pertuan Agong to summon a meeting of Parliament even before the Cabinet was formed and had its first meeting on December 15, 1999.
It must be emphasised that Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, who is serving his fifth term, may be the most powerful Prime Minister in the 42-year history of Malaysia but he is not the Cabinet.
Furthermore, Dr. Mahathir did not start his fifth-term Prime Ministership until December 14, when he was officially handed his letter of appointment as the new Prime Minister by the Yang di Pertuan Agong, and together with the new Cabinet Ministers, took his oath of office, loyalty and secrecy before the King.
This means that until December 14, 1999, Mahathir was only a caretaker Prime Minister and cannot discharge his duties as the Prime Minister of the new Government elected on Nov. 29, 1999.
There was therefore no Cabinet and even no Prime Minister to advise the Yang di Pertuan Agong to summon Parliament, as contained in the parliamentary notice to the 193 new MPs dated 13th December 1999, to meet tomorrow - when the earliest the Yang di Pertuan Agong could be advised by the Cabinet to summon a parliamentary meeting is December 15, 1999.
This is why I had proposed the issue of a new royal proclamation and a new parliamentary notice to MPs to regularise tomorrow’s Parliamentary meeting, to show that the new Barisan Nasional government elected in the tenth general election respects the Constitution, Parliament and the Yang di Pertuan Agong.
I now wish to withdraw my proposal as further study has shown that there is no way Parliament could be constitutionally and legally convened tomorrow.
Parliament tomorrow should be cancelled and be convened only on 29th December, which is the earliest date that the tenth Parliament could meet in accordance with the Constitution and Dewan Rakyat Standing Orders.
The first day of the meeting of Parliament on 29th December 1999 can only deal with the election of the new Speaker and the swearing-in of the 193 new MPs - and cannot deal with any other parliamentary business.
This is clearly stated in Dewan Rakyat Standing Order (1) which
(a) the election of Tuan Yang di Pertua;
(b) the taking and subscribing by Tuan Yang di Pertua of the Oath in the form set out in the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution;
(c) the taking and subscribing by all members present to the Oath in the form set in the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution,
and on the conclusion of such business the house shall stand adjourned to the date and time fixed by the Seri Paduka Baginda Yang di Pertuan Agong for the declaration of the causes of summoning a Parliament."
There are two reasons why Dec. 29 is the earliest the new Parliament
could meet for the first time to elect the new Speaker and for the swearing-in
of the 193 new MPs, namely:
Dewan Rakyat Standing Order (4) (1) states:
(1) Every member who wishes to propose a person who is either a member of the House or is qualified for election as such for election as Yang di Pertua shall ascertain previously that that member is willing to serve if elected, and shall notify the Setiausaha of his proposal in writing at least fourteen days before the meeting."
The parliamentary notice for tomorrow’s meeting (20th December 1999) was dated Dec. 13 and this is an additional reason why tomorrow’s Parliament should not proceed and should be cancelled.
Otherwise, MPs and in particular the Barisan Alternative are being denied the right to submit nominations for the new Speaker in the tenth Parliament. Furthermore, the Barisan Nasional’s nomination for the new Speaker also cannot be accepted as not being compliance with Standing Order 4(1).
If Parliament tomorrow cannot properly and legally elect a new Speaker, as no nomination would be able to comply with the requirement of 14-day written notice to Setiausaha Parlimen as laid down in Standing Order 4(1), how can the Dewan Rakyat proceed with the swearing-in ceremony for the 193 new MPs.
I know there is the argument that Parliament as the supreme legislature in the country is master of its own proceedings and can legalise any irregularities. There is however a limit to such a concept, as Parliamentary supremacy and sovereignty cannot be used to justify violation of the Constitution and Parliamentary procedures and practices.
There will those who will argue that Dewan Rakyat can suspend any
Standing Order, as provided in Standing Order 90, which reads:
(2) A question, the object or effect of which may be to suspend any Standing Order of the House, shall be proposed only either after notice given, or with the consent of Tuan Yang di Pertua."
Standing Order 90, however, cannot apply on the first day of the meeting of Parliament unconstitutionally convened tomorrow for the simple reason that there is no Speaker elected yet to give consent to any motion to suspend Standing Order (4) to dispense with the 14-day written notice required to be given to the Setiausaha Parlimen.
In fact, as former Speaker Tun Mohamad Zahir Ismail intimated two days ago, the Setiausaha Parlimen had not received any written notice whether by Barisan Nasional or Barisan Alternative for nomination for the post of the Speaker of the tenth Parliament.
The Parliamentary meeting tomorrow which had been convened in wanton disregard of the Constitution and the Parliamentary Standing Orders should be cancelled and be properly convened on 29th December to demonstrate that the new Barisan Nasional Government respects the Constitution, Parliament and the Yang di Pertuan Agong.
The first meeting of Parliament on Dec. 29 can only confine itself to the election of the new Speaker and the swearing-in of the 193 new MPs and must thereafter adjourn as provided in Standing Order 1.
To ensure that the government does not grind to a halt from 1st January 2000 without a single sen for expenditure as the 2000 Budget has not been passed, Parliament should be summoned into an emergency meeting on Dec. 30 and 31 to pass a contingency finance bill of some RM30 to RM40 billion to authorise government expenditures for the first six months of next year.
Dewan Negara should also be summoned to an emergency sitting on Dec. 31 to pass the contingency finance bill, with the Yang di Pertuan Agong giving his Royal Assent to the Bill on the same day on Dec. 31, 1999 so that it could come into effect as law on the last day of the millennium.
The pre-council meeting of Barisan Alternative MPs in Kuala Lumpur tonight would have to decide its course of action tomorrow if the Barisan Nasional government persists in wanting Parliament to meet tomorrow in utter disregard of the Constitution, Parliament and the Yang di Pertuan Agong.