#kerajaangagal147 – Takiyuddin is wrong both in law and in fact in saying that Parliament can only convene after Emergency has ended as Parliament had met under multiple emergencies for over four decades

The Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Law and Parliament), Takiyuddin Hassan, is wrong both in law and in fact in saying that Parliament can only convene after Emergency has ended as the Malaysian Parliament had met under multiple emergencies for over four decades.

It was only on 24th November 2011 that Parliament revoked the multiple proclamations of emergency and Malaysia became a more normal country.

This followed the passage of a motion in Parliament by the then Prime Minister, Najib Razak, on 24th November 2011 to revoke the Emergency Proclamations of 1966, 1969 and 1977.

Ever since 1977, I had been calling in Parliament for the revocation of four Proclamations of Emergency of 1964 (concerning the Indonesian Confrontation), 1966 (Sarawak political crisis), 1969 (May 13 Riots) and 1977 (Kelantan political crisis) in Parliament.

On 28th and 29th June, 1979, my motion to revoke the four Proclamations of Emergency was debated in Parliament for two days but all the Barisan Nasional MPs spoke and voted against it.

During the parliamentary debate on 24th November 2011, I questioned why the Proclamation of Emergency of 3rd September 1964 arising from the Indonesian Confrontation had been omitted from the revocation list.

When I spoke in Parliament in 1979 on the need to end the permanent state of emergency and to revoke the four Proclamations of Emergency as the situations giving rise to their issue had long ceased to exist, no Minister had ever raised the point that following a 1971 judgment the 1963 Proclamation of Emergency had ceased to exist as it had been superseded by the 1969 Proclamation.

I had said: “This is a new position taken by the government. If this is the position of the Attorney-General, what happens if there is another Attorney-General who does not agree with this point? Will we find one day that the 1963 Proclamation of Emergency still exists?”

I asked in the parliamentary debate in 2011 for an explanation for the “long delay” in repealing the multiple Emergency Proclamations – 45 years in the case of the 1966 Proclamation to topple the then Sarawak Chief Minister Stephen Kalong Ningkan, 42 years in the case of the 1969 Proclamation arising from the May 13 riots and 34 years in the case of the 1977 Proclamation to topple PAS control of the Kelantan government when the “emergency” situations causing the Emergency Proclamations to be made had long ceased to exist.

As I said in my 1979 motion in Parliament to revoke the Emergency Proclamations: “The perpetuation of a Proclamation of Emergency, when the emergency condition for which it was made had ceased to exist, is certainly an abuse of power and unconstitutional”.

It was also symptomatic of the arrogance of power which had long afflicted UMNO and Barisan Nasional at the time.

My speech in Parliament on that day proved to be quite prophetic.

I stressed that the revocation of the multiple Emergency Proclamations was only a small step in the direction to make Malaysia a normal country and would not on its own make Malaysia, as was the hype at the time, the “best democracy of the world”.

This has been proven true or we would not have today made the transition to a “democracy without Parliament”!

I had suggested the restoration of the original provision on Article 150 on the Emergency Proclamation in the Merdeka Constitution to provide for effective check and balance against undemocratic and authoritarian government, as the Merdeka Constitution had been amended totally beyond recognition to allow for arbitrary governance.

I asked, for instance, whether the government was prepared to return to the original Merdeka Constitution provision not only to restore the powers of judicial review to ensure that there is no abuse of power in the exercise of Article 150 provision on Emergency Proclamation, but also to subject Emergency Proclamations to meaningful Parliamentary review and control.

For instance, the original Article 150 in the Merdeka Constitution provided:

“A Proclamation of Emergency and any ordinance promulgated shall be laid before both Houses of Parliament and, if not sooner revoked, shall cease to be in force –

(a) A Proclamation at the expiration of a period of two months beginning with the date on which it was issued;

(b) An ordinance at the expiration of a period of fifteen days beginning with the date on which both Houses are first sitting,

unless, before the expiration of that period, it has been approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament.”

But this was not done or we would not be faced with the constitutional conundrum today – where an emergency was declared purportedly to fight the Covid-19 pandemic but really to suspend Parliament because the government does not enjoy the support of the majority of MPs in Parliament. To add insult to injury, the emergency was a dismal failure in the war against the Covid-19 pandemic.

The question is whether the Cabinet today would put a stop to these ravages to the Constitution or is prepared to face a full-blown constitutional crisis incurring the collective displeasure of the Yang di Pertuan Agong, the Rulers, Parliament and the people of Malaysia!

Lim Kit Siang MP for Iskandar Puteri