Cabinet should invoke Article 130 of the Constitution  to refer to the Federal Court for its opinion as to whether  Yong Teck Lee has vacated the Gaya parliamentary seat despite his application for a royal pardon

Media Statement 
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya, Tuesday): It would appear that three  statements, one through my political secretary Ean Yong Hian Wah, that I am not interested to be a candidate in the Gaya parliamentary by-election have  not deterred  various persons from persisting in the proposal that I contest the Gaya seat in Kota Kinabalu. 

Let me state for the final time: Nothing could be further from my mind than contesting in Gaya and  I have absolutely no interest in it. The question of my contesting in Gaya does not arise at all. In any event, the Gaya by-election should be contested by Sabahans. 

What has nagged me about the Gaya by-election, however,  is not  who would be contesting but whether it should be held at all. 

I had all along  held the view that if Yong Teck Lee filed a petition for  pardon to the Yang di Pertuan Agong under Article 48(4)(c) of the Constitution, his disqualification because of having been found guilty of corrupt practices under the Election Offences Act 1954 in connection with his election as  Likas state assemblyman in the Sabah state general election on 13th March 1999 would not take effect immediately until the disposal of the petition. 

In this case, I agree with the Parliament Speaker, Tun Zahir Ismail that Yong is still MP for Gaya as he had filed his petition for pardon to the Yang di Pertuan Agong before 17th September 2002, or before the expiry of the 14 days allowed him to file the pardon petition after he had exhausted all legal avenues of appeal after the  Federal Court’s decision on Sept. 3 to reject Yong’s appeal. 

The announcement by the Election Commission Chairman Datuk Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman on 18th September, after discussion with the Attorney-General’s Chambers, that Yong had lost his eligibility as MP for Gaya as his case was not subject to a royal pardon  came as a surprise to me as it does not seem to be in conformity with Article 48(4) (c) of the Constitution. 

As there is ambiguity  and doubt as to whether Yong has lost his eligibility as MP for Gaya as  he had filed his petition for pardon to the Yang di Pertuan Agong within the specified period, the Cabinet should remove this doubt by invoking Article 130 which states: 

“130. The Yang di Pertuan Agong may refer to the Federal Court for its opinion as to the effect of any provision of the Constitution which has arisen or appears to him likely to arise, and the Federal Court shall pronounce in open court its opinion on any question so referred to it.” 

The Cabinet should instruct the Attorney-General to seek from the Federal Court an authoritative interpretation of Article 48(4) (c) of the Constitution to ascertain whether Yong had lost his eligibility as MP for Gaya and that his case is not subject to a royal pardon. 

The Federal Court’s opinion should be sought before October 3, Nomination Day for Gaya by-election, so that there is certainty not only about the application of Article 48(4) (c) to Yong Teck Lee  with regard to the Gaya seat but to all MPs in a similar situation in future.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman