Overnight, Malaysia is faced with a major constitutional crisis with the gravest threat in the nation’s history on the proper place and power of Parliament in our system of governance and the traditional as well as constitutionally-entrenched parliamentary privileges and immunities of Members of Parliament, regardless whether from the government or the opposition.
Central to this constitutional crisis facing Malaysia is whether the Speaker, Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia, is capable of leading MPs to fend off the Executive and Police threats to parliamentary privileges and immunities by arbitrary, unconstitutional and illegal assumption of non-existing powers against Parliament?
The latest incident in the insidious subversion of Parliament’s proper role and place in the Malaysian system of governance, based on the doctrine of separation of powers among the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary, is the shocking announcement by the Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar that the police are now investigating former Second Finance Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah for sedition over his speech in Parliament about 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), aside for alleged violations of the Official Secrets Act (OSA) 1972.
The Inspector-General of Police made the nonsensical statement that Husni’s case is also classified under the Sedition Act because the investigation into the state investment firm was still underway and that talking about it might jeopardise the process.
He said: “Even in Parliament, it doesn’t give an MP the immunity against the Sedition Act to speak about such matter(s).”
Why is Khalid making such a silly statement and Malaysians are entitled to know who in the Police made such a ridiculous re-classification – the IGP or the Attorney-General?
I am thoroughly shocked that the No. 1 Policeman in the land has such a shallow knowledge of the law and the Constitution.
Let me tell Khalid, that even if is right that “talking about it (1MDB) might jeopardise the (investigation) process” allegedly bringing it within the confines of the Sedition Act, (but Khalid cannot be wrong unless the term “the rule of law” has lost all meaning in present-day Malaysia and I wonder whether the Attorney-General has become his instant “law guru”), an MP in such a situation is still protected from any form of police harassment or action under Article 63(2) of the Constitution which states:
“ 63 (2) No person shall be liable to any proceedings in any court in respect of anything said or any vote given by him when taking part in any proceedings of either House of Parliament or any committee thereof”.
There was an amendment to the Malaysian Constitution in 1971 qualifying the parliamentary privileges and immunities provided under Article 63 (2) and they are Article 63 (4) and (5), which reads:
“(4) Clause (2) shall not apply to any person charged with an offence under the law passed by Parliament under Clause (4) of Article 10 or with an offence under the Sedition Act 1948 as amended by the Emergency (Essential Powers) Ordinance No. 45, 1970.
“(5) Notwithstanding Clause (4), no person shall be liable to any proceedings in any court in respect of anything said by him of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong or a Ruler when taking part in any proceedings of either House of Parliament or any committee thereof except where he advocates the abolition of the constitutional position of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong as the Supreme Head of the Federation or the constitutional position of the Ruler of a State, as the case may be.”
Any careful reading of Husni’s speech in Parliament on the 2017 Budget, which applies equally to the speeches by the other two former Cabinet Ministers, former Deputy Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and former Rural and Regional Development Minister, Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal, would show that neither of three former Cabinet Ministers said anything about the four entrenched “sensitive” issues on Article 181 on the sovereignty of Rulers, Article 152 on the National Language, Article 153 on Special Provision for Malays and Part III of the Federal Constitution on citizenship provisions so as to lose their parliamentary privileges and immunities on these issues.
Even if Khalid is right that Husni’s questions and speech in Parliament on 1MDB could be “seditious” in interfering with current investigations concerning 1MDB scandal (and I have said Khalid is very wrong and even obtuse to think so), MPs are clearly and categorially protected by Article 63 on parliamentary privileges immunity of MPs when they speak on the 1MDB issue and are not liable to any civil or criminal proceedings for their speeches on 1MDB in Parliament.
Everybody knows that the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak would be the happiest man in the world if MPs are not allowed to raise 1MDB issues in Parliament on the ground that MPs would lose their parliamentary privileges and immunities and liable to be charged in court under the Sedition Act, but what should be the role of the Speaker in such an extraordianry situation?
Should the Speaker lead the parliamentary fight against such arbitrary, unconstitutional and illegal usurpation of parliamentary powers and privileges by the police and Executive, or should the Speaker throw in the towel, and worse still, be the first to concede that MPs may have lost their parliamentary privileges and immunities and could be charged in court under the Sedition Act for what they say about 1MDB in Parliament?
These are very serious and weighty questions about the Constitution, the rule of law, Parliament privileges and immunities, and the proper place of Parliament in Malaysian government scheme of things.
It is for this reason that I propose convening a meeting of all MPs, Ministers including former Ministers and MPs in Parliament on Tuesday at 10 am to discuss the Malaysian constitutional crisis which have suddenly been sprung on the nation.
Former Prime Minster, Tun Mahathir Mohamad, has confirmed that he will attend this meeting in Parliament House on Tuesday at 10 am as it involves the grave question of parliamentary privileges and immunities and freedom of speech and expression in Malaysia.
Although request for a room in Parliament is still awaiting the Speaker’s personal approval, I would like to openly invite the Speaker, Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia, the Deputy Speakers, the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak and all Ministers and Barisan Nasional MPs to this meeting in Parliament on Tuesday at 10 am, as it concerns a most fundamental issue affecting not just Opposition MPs, but the very quality of democracy and Parliament in Malaysia!
All former and current Ministers and MPs are invited to the Tuesday meeting in Parliament on parliamentary privileges and immunities through this Open Invitation.