Call on Attorney-General to advise the Cabinet on the constitutionality of the Constitution Amendment Bill 2004 to be debated in Parliament in a special sitting on January 17 and 18 to empower the Federal Government to take over the water jurisdiction from the state governments
- at the Support, Sympathy and Solidarity with Karpal Singh dinner organized by Teluk Intan DAP Branch
by Lim Kit Siang
(Teluk Intan, Sunday): I have received official notification from the Parliament Speaker, Tan Sri Ramli Ngah of a special sitting of the Dewan Rakyat on January 17 and 18 to debate and enact the Constitution Amendment Bill 2004, one of whose three objectives is to amend the State List to empower the Federal Government to take over the water jurisdiction from the state governments.
The Attorney-General Tan Sri Gani Patail should advise the Cabinet on the constitutionality of the Constitution Amendment Bill 2004, which was tabled for first reading in the Dewan Rakyat on 14th December 2004, as to whether it should be withdrawn as the present Bill is unconstitutional.
Article 75(1) of the Federal Constitution stipulates three circumstances where Parliamernt can amend the State List in Schedule Nine of the Federal Constitution, viz:
As the provisions of Article 75(1) (a) and (b) do not apply here, the pertinent question is whether any State Assembly in Peninsula Malaysia had requested for the amendment to the State List with regard to water to make the Constitution Amendment Bill 2004 a constitutional and lawful one.
It is very clear from Article 75(1) that it is not enough for state governments to agree with the Federal Government to amend the State List in the Federal Constitution on water jurisdiction, but there has to be “request” by the Legislative Assemblies of the states concerned to Parliament for such an amendment.
For Parliament to first amend the State List in the Federal Constitution without any prior request from the State Legislative Assemblies, to be followed by the subsequent amendments to the various State Constitutions by the State Legislative Assemblies concerned, is to put the cart before the horse, which is unconstitutional and unlawful, rendering the amendment null and void.
The Perak State Assembly has not adopted any resolution asking Parliament to amend the State List affecting the state government’s jurisdiction on water, nor has any State Assembly in Peninsular Malaysia passed any such resolution.
Without any such request by the State Legislative Assemblies concerned as stipulated by Article 75(1)©, it is unconstitutional for the Cabinet to present, and Parliament to debate and enact, any Constitution Amendment Bill amending the State List – making the special sitting of Parliament summoned on January 17 and 18 unlawful and unconstitutional.
The Attorney-General Tan Sri Gani Patail should ensure that the Cabinet and Parliament do not act unconstitutionally by giving careful study to the matter and giving proper advice.
* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman