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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 election.

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.


* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman


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