striking out of my impeachment motion of the Election Commission Chairman
from the Order Paper at the behest of the Attorney-General without giving
me the fundamental right to be heard most unparliamentary and a severe blow
to the principle of parliamentary supremacy and doctrine of separation of
Media Conference Statement
by Lim Kit Siang
(Penang, Sunday): I was most shocked last night when I saw from Monday’s Parliamentary Order Paper online that my impeachment motion of no confidence against the Election Commission Chairman Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman and other Commission members had been struck off by the Speaker, Tun Mohamed Zahir Ismail at the behest of the Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail without giving me the fundamental right to be heard first, thus violating the most elementary rule of natural justice.
This is most unparliamentary and a severe blow to the principle of parliamentary supremacy and the doctrine of separation of powers.
In his maiden official speech as the fifth Prime Minister, which he chose to make in Parliament on 3rd November 2003, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi pledged to honour and uphold the doctrine of separation of powers between the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary - but the manner in which a substantive motion of great national interest and importance about parliamentary and public confidence in the Election Commission had been struck out from the Order Paper raises grave questions about how seriously this doctrine is regarded not only by the Executive but by Parliament and the Speaker!
The least the Speaker should have done before arbitrarily ordering my substantive motion to be struck out from the Order Paper, which had appeared on it for more than a week, is to hear my views as I believe strongly that the Attorney-General is wrong if he had held that it is sub judice for Parliament to debate the impeachment motion of no confidence in the Election Commission Chairman for the conduct of the most chaotic and disgraceful 2004 general election.
Zahir had in fact agreed with me that the question of sub judice does not arise, which was why he had allowed my impeachment motion of no confidence to appear on the Order Paper, chaired the question time of the first sitting of Parliament last Wednesday when the Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk M. Kayveas answered my oral question about whether the government proposes to establish a Royal Commission of Inquiry into “the most unfair, disgraceful, chaotic and unprofessional 2004 general election”, which was followed by two supplementary questions and answers. Furthermore, during the debate on the Royal Address on Wednesday, MPs from both sides of the House had debated the conduct of the 2004 general election.
Zahir said that he would now direct all MPs not to raise issues related to the March 21 general election. Is he going to expunge from Hansard the question-and-answer record on Wednesday about the 2004 general election and all debates referring to the general election? If so, this will be another unthinkable precedent in the Malaysian Parliament!
Zahir told Bernama that MPs could discuss and debate on the general election only after the election court had dealt with all the election petitions and judicial reviews. He said MPs could move a fresh motion on the discrepancies and shortcomings in the general election only after all the court processes had ended.
I call on the Speaker to review his decision, so as not to create a situation undermining the prestige and standing of Parliament, particularly at a time when efforts are being made by all parties concerned to make it a “First World Parliament” by fully honouring and upholding the principle of parliamentary supremacy and the doctrine of separation of powers.
Karpal and I had been informed by the Attorney-General yesterday that there have been total of 47 election challenges, with 44 election petitions and three applications for judicial review (with one by PAS already rejected by the Penang High Court early this month).
It is no use the Speaker saying that the impeachment motion of no confidence can be moved only after the courts had disposed of all the legal election challenges, which could take up to one whole year – by which time, the whole issue would become completely cold and academic.
Furthermore, what is before the courts of law as a result of the 44 election petitions and the two applications for judicial review, the legality of the 2004 general election, is completely different from what is before Parliament – public and parliamentary confidence in the Election Commission as a result of the conduct of the 2004 general election.
Hypothetically, even if Parliament passes the impeachment motion of no confidence against the Election Commission Chairman, it does not automatically make the 2004 general election unlawful. Similarly, even if the courts should clear the Election Commission of any illegality in the conduct of the 2004 general election, it does not mean that Parliament cannot pass a motion of no confidence against the Election Commission Chairman.
The two issues must therefore be kept completely distinct and separate, as what Parliament is being asked to do – a no confidence motion in the Election Commission – is not a justiciable issue before the courts.
In these circumstances, I call on the Speaker to reinstate the impeachment motion of no confidence back on the Parliamentary Order Paper and to allow a full debate on it, especially as the Cabinet has agreed last Wednesday for a full debate.
* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader,
Member of Parliament for Ipoh Timor & DAP National Chairman