Media Conference Statement (2) by Lim Kit Siang at the start of a
two-day whistle-stop campaign in Perak to launch the second DAP general
election theme on “Say no to corruption and rising prices” at the Pokok
Assam market, Taiping on Saturday, 2nd February 2008 at 9 am:
Mulling legal suit for court declaration on caretaker government
once Parliament is dissolved to prevent abuses of power by Prime
Minister and Cabinet Ministers in misuse of government resources and
funds for BN electioneering
The Cabinet on Wednesday spent three hours discussing the next
general election – a gross abuse of government resources as well as
another shocking example of the failure and increasing inability of
government leaders to respect the important distinctions among the
government, party and personal which is the root cause of rampant
corruption in Malaysia.
I want to ask the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi
whether in the three-hour Cabinet meeting on the next general election,
he had issued a clear directive to all the Ministers that they should
set an example of ethics and integrity once Parliament is dissolved,
and should not abuse their “caretaker” responsibilities to abuse
government positions, resources, manpower and funds for Barisan
Nasional electioneering purposes.
Three weeks ago, I had sought an appointment with the Prime Minister
to discuss among other things the importance of a premiership which had
launched the National Integrity Plan to honour the concept of a
caretaker government between the dissolution of Parliament and the
election of a new legislature and formation of new government.
Under this concept, which has become commonplace in first-world
developed nations, there is only a caretaker government when Parliament
stands dissolved for a general election to be held.
In a caretaker government, Cabinet Ministers should not abuse
government positions, machinery, resources and funds for any
electioneering purpose for a political party or candidate.
A candidate who benefits unfairly from any “unhealthy” and dishonest
practices, as campaigning assistance by the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime
Minister or Cabinet Minister through the abuse of their government
positions or misuse of public funds and resources, should be subject to
disqualification. Cabinet Ministers who abused their “caretaker” roles
should also be penalized.
There has been no response from the Prime Minister’s Office to my
request for an appointment with the Prime Minister but I have received a
sort of reply from his statement two days ago that he would meet with
NGOs but not with Opposition parties in the run-up to the next general
As Abdullah has made it clear that he would not want to meet with
Opposition leaders in the run-up to the next general election, even if
it is in the national interest to ensure that Malaysia conducts a free,
fair and clean general election and not to allow our international
reputation to be further marred by having the “dirtiest general election
in the nation’s history” – something which former Prime Minister Tun Dr.
Mahathir Mohamad has just warned as likely to happen – I am seriously
mulling court action for a declaration on the applicability of the
concept of caretaker government once Parliament is dissolved to prevent
abuses of power by Prime Minister and Cabinet Ministers.
This is clearly in the public interest. However, one consideration is
holding me back – the question of cost. It could be very prohibitive to
defend and uphold the public interest in court.
Although DAP National Chairman Karpal Singh is prepared to take up
the case pro bono publico, there is the question of costs that might be
awarded by the court if the case is dismissed. I understand the costs
could be as high as RM50,000.
It is sad that costs should be such a deterrent factor in
public-interest litigation suits.
The question is whether the Malaysian public are prepared to come
forward to give financial support to adopt such a public interest
litigation to get the court to spell out that the concept of “caretaker
government” is relevant in Malaysian parliamentary democracy and should
be honoured and observed by the Prime Minister and all Cabinet Ministers
once Parliament is dissolved.
Kit Siang, Parliamentary
Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic
Planning Commission Chairman