The conclusion reached by Prof. Shad was that a caretaker Prime Minister after the dissolution of Parliament and before a new government had been formed can usurp the powers of a new Cabinet yet-to-be-formed to advise the Yang di Pertuan Agong to summon the first meeting of a newly-elected Parliament.
On the very same day, which was Christmas Day, I wrote a reply to Shad’s "Comment" and emailed/faxed it to New Straits Times.
My reply never saw the light of day but today, Shaq wrote a second article entitled "Of speculation, law and the Constitution" which was also a response to my reply which was never published by NST.
Shad must belong to a minority of minorities to hold the view that a caretaker Prime Minister can usurp the powers of a new Cabinet yet-to-be-formed to advise the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to summon the first meeting of the newly-elected Parliament, and it is most unfortunate that he was unable to attend the Round Table Conference yesterday on "Constitution, Parliament and Rule of Law" in Petaling Jaya to defend his views, as he had to be away in Sarawak on university business.
I now invite Shad to a public debate on the constitutionality of the first meeting of the new tenth Parliament on December 20, 1999 because of the wide-ranging ramifications of a Parliament whose laws and businesses in its five years of office could be affected by illegality and unconstitutionality.
I hope Shaq would be able to accept the invitation to a public debate in the second half of next month and I will write to him to ensure that the public debate could be fixed without clashing with his prior appointments and engagements. The public debate can be held at the University Technologi Mara, any other university or other public venues.
This public debate need not be confined strictly to two sides representing those who defend or attack the constitutionality of the first meeting of the new tenth Parliament on 20th December 1999,and there should be scope for those who hold the middle ground to take part in the debate as well. It will also be great if the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Dr. Rais Yatim who is in charge of law and justice, and the Attorney-General, Tan Sri Mochtar Abdullah or his representative, can take part in this debate.
NST has created history in Malaysian journalism in publishing Dr. Shad’s reply to me after blacking out my earlier response.
NST admitted as much in its leader page today, with
the following explanation to Shaq’s article:
I would be replying to Shaq’s piece today and I hope the New Straits Times would have the decency to publish this reply. New Straits Times also owes it to its readership and the canons of ethical and responsible journalism to explain why it had "blacked-out" my reply of 25th December 1999 to Shaq, and yet is now publishing Shaq’s response to the reply it had chosen to suppress from publication in its leader page!