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Why Parliament sitting invalid - LKS
By web aNtu
22/12/1999 2:42 am Wed
DEMOCRATIC ACTION PARTY
Media Conference Statement by DAP National Chairman, Lim Kit Siang, at DAP
PJ Hqrs on Tuesday, 21st December 1999 at 11.30 a.m.
All laws pa#sed by Parliament convened not in accordance with the
Constitution are null and void and DAP will consider the legal implications
of such a statutory rape of the Constitution and the possibility of legal
I am very flattered that the fifth-term Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr.
Mahathir Mohamad sees my influence in Parliament everywhere although I am
no more a MP and Parliamentary Opposition Leader.
Mahathir accused me as being the "mastermind" and "puppet master pulling
strings" in Parliament. If Mahathir is right, then I am now even more
powerful after being booted out of Parliament in the dirtiest general
election in the nation's history than at any time during my 30 years as MP
and 25 years as Parliamentary Opposition Leader.
Mahathir does not do himself enough credit. The pandemonium which started
the new tenth Parliament yesterday was completely his own making in
flaunting the Barisan Nasional political hegemony by using its new
three-quarters parliamentary majority to compel the new Parliament to
commit the statutory rape of the Malaysian Constitution as its very first a=
Mahathir wants to create the impression that I am some shady conspirator,
working in subterranean and other devious ways to "instigate" chaos in
Parliament. He cannot be more wrong. He should know that in my 33 years
in politics, I have always operated openly and publicly and never had any
For six consecutive days after I received information that Parliament was
being summoned to meet on December 20, 1999, I had warned that it was
being convened not in accordance with the Constitution and that to persist
in such an unconstitutionally-convened Parliament would be to show utter
contempt for the Yang di Pertuan Agong, Parliament and the Constitution.
The facts are very simple and straightforward. 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"
which do not apply here.
The new Cabinet Ministers were only sworn in on December 14, 1999 and the
first Cabinet meeting held on December 15, 1999.
On 9th December, 1999 the Yang di Pertuan Agong issued a proclamation
summoning Parliament to hold its first meeting on Dec. 20, 1999 and on
13th December, 1999, the Setiausaha Parliamen Datuk Mohd. Salleh bin Haji
Ha#san sent out the notice of meeting to all the 193 new MPs informing
them of the first meeting of Parliament on December 20 - both events
preceded the first Cabinet meeting of December 15, 1999, which is the
earliest date the new Cabinet could have decided on the first meeting of
the new Parliament.
Under the circumstances, it is clear that the royal proclamation of Dec. 9
and the parliamentary notice of Dec. 13, being made before the first
Cabinet meeting of Dec. 15, are null and void as not being in accordance
with the Constitution.
The Dec. 20, 1999 Parliamentary meeting suffers not only from the ab initio
fatality of not having been convened in accordance with the provisions of
the Constitution, it is also in blatant disregard of parliamentary
standing orders on two grounds: firstly, Dewan Rakyat Standing Order (4)
requiring at least 14 days' written notice for any nomination for the pos=
As a result, there had been multiple usurpation of powers in
unconstitutionally convening the first meeting of Parliament yesterday:
=B7 the usurpation of the powers of the new Cabinet to advise the Yang di
Pertuan Agong to convene the first meeting of the new tenth Parliament;
=B7 the usurpation of the powers and privileges of Parliament to elect a ne=
=B7 the usurpation of the powers of the Yang di Pertuan Agong to convene th=
=B7 the usurpation of the rights and privileges of MPs to submit questions
for answer by Cabinet Ministers, as MPs had been denied the right to put
questions for all the four days of Dewan Rakyat meeting from December 20 -
(1)Can a caretaker government constitutionally usurp the powers of the new
Mahathir's claim that his status as the Prime Minister in the interim or
"In any country, the caretaker government has the power. There is nothing
in the Constitution to say that I am not empowered to advise the Agong.
"Which means the Prime Minister in a caretaker government has the same
role and power as the Prime Minister at other times. So I have the right
to advise the Yang di-Pertuan Agong."
Dr Mahathir said if such rights were not vested in him "then the caretaker
government would be meaningless".
He cited as an example India where the "caretaker government" functioned
for six months and many decisions were made during that period. He later
told reporters: "They say I have got no power, but when there is war, I
have the power to act."
I challenge Mahathir to just give one instance in any other country where
the caretaker Prime Minister had usurped the powers of the new Cabinet
which had yet to be formed by advising the King to summon the first meeting
of the new Parliament, and I am sure he cannot do so.
Mahathir is presenting a most pernicious and undemocratic doctrine that a
caretaker government has all the functions and powers of an ordinary
government as a caretaker government in a parliamentary democracy merely
performs the rudimentary duties of the state. Apart from maintaining law
and order, it ensures that government machinery continues to function so
that the day-to-day task of administration can be carried out.
A responsible caretaker government cannot initiate new programmes or launch
new projects let alone take new policy decisions in the name of the
government or it will be trespa#sing on the powers and duties of the new
government to be formed.
Mahathir used the extreme example that if there is war, the caretaker
government has the power to act. I agree, but this will be in the context
of performing the rudimentary duties of the state as protecting the
security of the nation during a war declared by a foreign country, but
certainly, a caretaker Prime Minister or government has no powers to
declare war on another state!
Mahathir is wrong when he claimed that the Prime Minister in a caretaker
government has the same role and power as the Prime Minister at other times=
Can Mahathir state how many times the caretaker Cabinet had met since the
dissolution of Parliament on Nov. 11, 1999, the dates and the decisions
taken at these meetings or had there been no caretaker Cabinet meeting at
all? If this is the case, then there is only caretaker Prime Minister but
with no caretaker Cabinet although all the Ministers continue to be paid
Ministerial salaries and allowances as caretaker Ministers - which will be
another caretaker scandal.
As the Prime Minister in a caretaker government cannot have the same role
and power as the Prime Minister at other times, the caretaker government
cannot constitutionally usurp the powers of the new Cabinet to advise the
Yang di Pertuan Agong on the first meeting of the newly-elected Parliament.
(2) Would the government grind to a halt without a single sen to pay
salaries, including MPs' allowances, without Parliament meeting yesterday=
Mahathir's accused the opposition of trying to disrupt the administration
of the country, that his government was behind time on the budget and the
opposition was only complicating matters. "If we don't get this budget
approved, we can't even pay the salaries of MPs."
Mahathir's accusation is completely baseless and unfounded. The Barisan
Alternative had offered full co-operation to pa#s the RM30 billion
contingency finance bill to authorise government expenditures for the first
half of next year until the 2000 Budget is pa#sed so that the government
would not grind to a halt on 1st January 2000 without a single sen to spend=
But this must be done without committing any statutory rape of the
Constitution and Parliamentary Standing Orders.
I had in fact on Sunday made specific proposals as to how the RM30 billion
contingency finance bill could be pa#sed to authorise government
expenditures for the first six months of next year, as I do not expect the
2000 Budget to be pa#sed and become law until May or June next year.
"The Parliamentary meeting tomorrow (20.12.1999) 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
pa#sed, Parliament should be summoned into an emergency meeting on Dec. 30
and 31 to pa#s 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
pa#s the contingency finance bill, with the Yang di Pertuan Agong giving
his Royal a#sent 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."
(3) Who created the situation whereby 2000 Budget could not be pa#sed this
year and a contingency finance bill had to be rushed to Parliament for
emergency pa#sage in the last few days of the year?
This deplorable state of affairs, where the 2000 Budget could not be
pa#sed this year, was the sole handiwork of Dr. Mahathir, for two reasons:
(i) Firstly, because he wanted to conduct the dirtiest general election in
the nation's history to retain Barisan Nasional political hegemony and
two-thirds parliamentary majority, a centreplank of which is to
disenfranchise 680,000 new voters mostly from the young generation from
exercising their constitutional right to vote in the tenth national
general election. These new voters would have the right to vote when the
new electoral roll is completed in January after the longest voters'
revision exercise. Mahathir's solution was to dissolve the ninth
Parliament in mid-session and mid-debate on the 2,000 budget when there was
no constitutional or political crisis to justify such a dissolution -
creating the present parliamentary and budgetary messes.
(i) Secondly, Prime Ministerial neglect and irresponsibility. After
acting irresponsibly in dissolving Parliament in mid-session and mid-debate
of the 2000 Budget, Mahathir should have realised the urgency of forming
the Cabinet at the earliest opportunity so as to convene the first meeting
of newly-elected Parliament at the first available date so that a
contingency finance bill could be approved to authorise government
expenditures for next year. Mahathir should have formed his Cabinet
immediately after the Nov. 29, 1999 election result, had the Ministers
sworn in and an immediate first Cabinet meeting held. The first meeting of
the tenth Parliament could have been held on Dec. 20 fully in accordance
with the provisions of the Constitution and the Standing Orders if Mahathir
had formed his Cabinet immediately after the general election without
having to commit statutory rape of the Constitution and the parliamentary
(4) Why is the Barisan Nasional government unable to accept the Barisan
Alternative proposal to convene Parliament on Dec. 29 and 30 to respect the
Yang di Pertuan Agong, Constitution and Parliament
The only reason why the Prime Minister and the Cabinet are not prepared to
accept the Barisan Alternative proposal that Parliament meet on Dec. 29,
1999 which would allow the first meeting of Parliament to be convened in
accordance with the provisions of the Constitution and the Parliamentary
Standing Orders, and to allow the contingency finance bill to be pa#sed on
Dec. 30, 1999, is because the Prime Minister and all the Cabinet Ministers
have made arrangements for New Year holidays. As far as the new Cabinet is
concerned, the Constitution and the Parliamentary Standing Orders can be
statutorily raped provided their New Year holiday plans are not spoiled!
(5) Did I instigate the walkout by the Barisan Alternative MPs
Mahathir said opposition MPs, "most of whom are new", would not have
touched on the legality of Parliament being convened not in accordance with
the provisions of the Constitution if I had not raised it.
"But it seems to us that Lim Kit Siang is still pulling strings to ensure
that the opposition would dance to his tune. I regret very much that
other people can play the role of a puppet master in this House. This
does not augur well for the
Mahathir has missed the point altogether. The question is not who was the
first to raise the issue of the legality of a Parliament not convened in
accordance with the Constitution, but whether there is merit in the
He is also insulting the intelligence and integrity of Barisan Alternative
MPs thinking that just because Barisan Nasional MPs could be led by the
nose by the BN leadership, turning them into Parliamentary "yes-men" and
"yes-women", Barisan Alternative MPs are the same.
There was no question of any "mastermind" or "puppet-master pulling
strings". The Barisan Alternative MPs from DAP, PAS and KeADILan had a
pre-council meeting on Sunday night to discuss the new Parliament and the
issue of the legality of Parliament not convened in accordance with the
Constitution and the parliamentary standing orders dominated discussions.
There was general outrage and consensus that there should be a strong
protest against the statutory rape of the Constitution perpetrated by the
Barisan Nasional but no decision was taken for a collective walk-out by the
Barisan Alternative MPs.
The collective walk-out by the BA and PBS MPs in the Dewan Rakyat yesterday
morning was the final spontaneous protest and outrage at the Barisan
Nasional's arbitrary and high-handed contempt for the Constitution,
Parliament and the Yang di Pertuan Agong and its refusal to listen to
reason to cancel yesterday's meeting and convene instead on Dec. 29, 1999,
complying with the provisions of the Constitution and the Parliamentary
Standing Orders as well as in time to approve the contingency finance bill
to authorise government expenditures for the first six months of next year
until approval of the 2,000 Budget.
Mahathir was being very irresponsible when he alleged that the Opposition
MPs was introducing the "samseng culture" with their walkouts.
Walkouts from Parliament and State a#semblies are legitimate forms of
peaceful protests when the governing majority abuses its power by
flaunting its political hegemony. UMNO State a#semblymen in Kelantan had
previously staged various walkouts in the PAS-led Kelantan State a#sembly.
Is Mahathir now saying that those UMNO Kelantan State a#semblymen who had
staged walk-outs in the Kelantan State a#sembly before were "samseng"
In their blatant disregard of the Constitution, Parliament and the Yang di
Pertuan Agong, the Barisan Nasional Ministers and MPs must forever hold
their heads in shame at the statutory rape of the Constitution as the very
first act of the tenth Parliament.
Barisan Alternative MPs, led by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, Datuk
Fadhil Nor, and a#sisted by DAP Parliamentary leader Dr. Tan Seng Giaw,
must be commended for courageously and stoutly standing up in the defence
of the Constitution, Parliament and the Yang di Pertuan Agong, and I want
in particular to commend new MPs who had immediately made a mark on the
first day of Parliament , namely Chong Eng (DAP-Bukit Mertajam), Fong Po
Kuan (DAP-Batu Gajah), Chow Kon Yeow (DAP -Tanjong) Syed Azman Syed Ahmad
Nawawi (PAS-Kuala Terangganu) and Mahfuz Omar (PAS-Pokok Sena).
Mahathir said the opposition failed to show respect to Tun Mohamed Zahir
Ismail who was re-elected the House Speaker for a fifth term.
He said: "By right when the Speaker says sit, we sit. If we do not follow
regulations, then it will be difficult to debate in an orderly manner." =
Mahathir is indulging in meaningless verbiage, as in my 30 years in
Parliament, no motion by any opposition member to review the Speaker's
ruling or decision had ever been allowed time for debate. This is to
illustrate that although Zahir is making Malaysian history as the
longest-serving Speaker in his fifth term since 1982, he can lose public
respect for his office very quickly if the Speaker is not seen to be fair
and impartial in upholding the rights, honours, privileges and dignities of
all MPs in the House, whether government or opposition.
Zahir said he was surprised by the uproar caused by the opposition at the
first meeting of the 10th Parliament yesterday, which he described as the
worst in its history.
He said Members of Parliament were not supposed to debate before the
Speaker was elected and the members were sworn in.
"They (opposition) should not have protested when Secretary to Parliament
Datuk Mohamad Salleh Ha#san wanted to start the proceedings for electing
the Speaker," he told reporters outside the House.
The Opposition MPs are not at fault in speaking up at this stage, although
technically there could be no debate before the Speaker was elected and the
members were sworn in.
Mahathir himself told reporters later that "Technically speaking they are
not supposed to talk in Parliament until they take their oath". Didn't
Mahathir himself speak in Parliament yesterday before he took his oath as
an MP although he is serving his eighth term as MP and should know he
cannot speak in the Dewan Rakyat before being first sworn in?
If there was anyone who was at fault at this stage, it was the Secretary
to Parliament who failed to protect the privileges and traditions of
Parliament in being a party to the convening of the first meeting of
Parliament not in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.
When statutory rapes of the Constitution and the Parliamentary Standing
Orders are being committed openly and blatantly, to complain about
Opposition MPs speaking before the election of the Speaker and the
oath-taking is to miss the woods for the trees!
All laws pa#sed by Parliament convened not in accordance with the
Constitution are null and void and this means all bills and businesses
pa#sed by this session of Parliament can be open to legal challenge as to
The legality of oaths taken by Members of Parliament yesterday could also
be open to challenge, as the Constitution provides that a MP who did not
take his oath of office and his place in Parliament within a period of six
months runs the risk of his seat being declared vacant. This also applies
to all Cabinet Ministers as they would lose their qualification to be
Cabinet Ministers if their parliamentary seats are declared vacant.
These are far-reaching implications of a Parliament not convened in
accordance with the Constitution. Parliament is the master of its own
house and can regulate improprieties as violations of its own Standing
Orders, but Parliament cannot rectify an unconstitutional act committed
outside Parliament, as convening Parliament not in accordance with the
Constitution by wrong advice to the Yang di Pertuan Agong.
In the final analysis, the constitutional principle to be decided is
whether a caretaker Prime Minister can usurp the powers of a new Cabinet
which has not yet been formed to advise the Yang di Pertuan Agong to summon
the first meeting of Parliament.
DAP is studying these legal implications, including the possibility of
Lim Kit Siang
Link Reference : Proxy List Dec 1999