Clarification: forecast of dissolution of Parliament in May if it is not dissolved before March 8
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Tuesday): Several Chinese newspapers have reported that I had said at the DAP Jalan Templer Branch dinner in Seremban on Sunday night that the next general election would be held in May/June as the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi would not interrupt half-way the Parliamentary meeting which would begin on March 8 to hold a general election.
This is incorrect. What I said at the dinner was that the next general election would be held in May/June if Parliament is not dissolved before March 8, when a new parliamentary session will begin with the official opening by the Yang di Pertuan Agong.
There is nothing in law or the constitution to prevent the Prime Minister from dissolving Parliament during its March/April meeting mid-way, as happened in the 1999 general election, when Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad dissolved Parliament in the mid-way of the 2000 budget debate – but I would not expect Abdullah to do such a most improper thing for two reasons:
Firstly, it would make nonsense of Abdullah’s pledge as the new Prime Minister for a honest, clean, incorruptible, open and accountable government – as it would be a colossal waste of public funds. The adjournment of the 1999 budget meeting mid-way to hold the 1999 general election had cost the country several millions of ringgit if not RM10 million ringgit, as all the Parliamentary meetings in October and November 1999 were wasted and all the bills passed lapsed after dissolution, requiring a repeat debate and passage of all the parliamentary business after the general election.
Secondly, it also makes nonsense of Abdullah’s promise to respect and uphold the doctrine of the separation of powers in the relationship between the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary. Dissolving Parliament mid-way when there is no constitutional crisis is showing utter contempt for Parliament.
When then is the next general election? Either Parliament is dissolved before March 8 to pave the way for polls in March or after the end of the first Parliamentary meeting. i.e. Dewan Rakyat from March 8 to April 15, and the end of Dewan Negara on May 6, which will situate the polling day at the end of May or June (in time for the visit to Malaysia by Chinese premier for Barisan Nasional to play the China card).
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman