Media Statement by Lim Kit Siang in Petaling Jaya on Monday, 23rd February 2009:
Police should stop harassing Perak Speaker Sivakumar and Abdullah should retract his public statement proposing that a police report be lodged against Sivakumar
Former Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad is right when he ridiculed the public statement by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi asking Datuk Zambry Abdul Kadir to lodge a police report against the Perak State Assembly Speaker V. Sivakumar.
As Mahathir asked in his blog, “If the decision of the Speaker can be considered a crime, then what will happen when the Parliamentary Speaker suspends opposition members for whatever reasons?”
Abdullah has not only made a ridiculous proposal, he had set a bad example as Prime Minister in publicly calling for an open breach of the law, as the Speaker’s decision or action, whether one agrees or disagrees with it, is protected by law and conferred immunity from civil or criminal proceedings.
This is why the Police should stop harassing Sivakumar as the police should be the first to uphold the law rather than to break it.
When I was detained under the Internal Security Act during the Operation Lalang dragnet in 1987, police officers interrogating me wanted me to reveal my sources of information on the North-South Expressway privatisation scandal which I had highlighted in Parliament and was clearly one of the real reasons for my second ISA detention.
I refused and told the police officers that they were breaking the law and referred them to the Houses of Parliament (Privileges and Powers) Act 1952 which conferred immunity to MPs from civil or criminal proceedings for anything done or said before the House or any parliamentary committee.
Section 3 of the Act states: “There shall be freedom of speech and debate or proceedings in the House and such freedom of speech and debate or proceedings shall not be liable to be impeached or questioned in any court or tribunal out of the House.”
I asked the police officers to go back and refer to the Attorney-General’s Chambers to seek legal opinion whether they had transgressed the Houses of Parliament (Privileges and Powers) Act 1952 in demanding that I reveal my sources of information on my parliamentary speeches.
I made it clear that I would exercise my right to lodge a report against the police officers for violating the law if they persist in that line of questioning.
The police officers went back to seek further instructions and dropped this line of questioning to demand that I reveal my sources of information on my parliamentary revelations about the North-South Expressway scandal.
There are similar legislation in the respective states to confer immunity from civil and criminal proceedings for State Assembly members, including the Speaker, for anything said or done in the Assembly proceedings. In Perak, for instance, there is the Legislative Assembly (Privileges) Enactment 1959.
Clearly, Abdullah had been badly advised. May be, this is why there a need to seek advice from Queen’s Counsel in a foreign land.
The police should stop harassing the Perak Speaker Sivakumar and Abdullah should retract his public statement proposing that a police report be lodged against Sivakumar.
*Lim Kit Siang, DAP Parliamentary leader & MP for Ipoh Timor