Impeachment motion against
Election Commission Chairman not sub judice - meeting with Attorney-General
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Friday): DAP Deputy National Chairman and MP for Bukit Glugor, Karpal Singh and I will meet the Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail tomorrow on my impeachment motion of no confidence against the Election Commission Chairman and other Commission members for the conduct of the most chaotic and disgraceful 2004 general election.
The Cabinet on Wednesday agreed to the debate of the impeachment motion of no confidence against the Election Commission Chairman and other Commission members subject to the advice of the Attorney-General whether it will be sub judice as election petitions had been filed in court against the Election Commission, questioning the election results.
It has been reported that the Attorney-General is inclined to the view that it is sub judice, which I find most shocking.
My impeachment motion of no confidence reads:
Parliament cannot be estopped from carrying out its duty as the highest legislative and deliberative chamber of the land to debate the burning issues of national importance just because there are cases in court touching on one or two aspect of any matter.
No court of law has the right to stop Parliament from debating and deciding on a no-confidence motion against the Election Commission Chairman, as it will be tantamount to the ludicrous position that a court of law can stop Parliament from debating and deciding on a no confidence motion against the Prime Ministers, as such issues are decided by the highest political court of the land, which deals with the question of confidence which is completely outside the ambit of the court of law.
While it is accepted that it is sub judice to refer to matters which have been set down for trial or court adjudication, a clear distinction here must be made between the issue of the legality of the questions raised in legal challenges as distinct from parliamentary and political confidence in the Election Commission for its conduct of the 2004 general election. My impeachment motion, for instance, makes no reference to the legality or illegality of any particular issue pleaded in electoral challenges in the court of law.
The impeachment motion of no confidence against the Election Commission Chairman and members is not so much about the legality of the 2004 general election, but the efficiency, fairness, professionalism and integrity of the conduct of the general elections, in other words, whether the Election Commission has discharged its constitutional mandate to conduct a free, fair and clean general election – grave and fundamental issues which are not really justiciable before the Election Courts or the ordinary courts of law but the highest political court of the land, Parliament!
In any event, the question here is not whether the scandalous and outrageous performance of the Election Commission would be raised and debated in Parliament – as MPs have already started doing so in the very first day of Parliament, both during question time and the debate on the Royal Address – but whether Parliament and government is going to take this issue seriously by having a focused debate in an impeachment motion specifically addressing the issue or whether it would merely be the subject of random references and potshots by MPs during the course of the current parliamentary meeting.
In allowing a question on the misconduct of the 2004 general election by the Election Commission to be answered in the very first day of Parliament followed by supplementary questions, the impeachment motion of no confidence in the Election Commission to appear on the Order Paper as well as MPs to lambast the Election Commission for the most chaotic and disgraceful conduct of the 2004 general election, both the Speaker and Parliament have acted on the clear basis that no question of sub judice arises.
It would be most extraordinary, not calculated to enhance public confidence in parliamentary democracy and the rule of law, if it is suddenly found that Parliament had been acting sub judice in the first week, in allowing questions and debate on the Election Commission’s conduct of the recent general election, in order to shut up all criticisms of the Election Commission to justify the stand that the impeachment motion of no confidence against the Election Commission Chairman and other members of the Commission cannot be debated on grounds of sub judice of election challenges in court.
* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader,
Member of Parliament for Ipoh Timor & DAP National Chairman