Remembering the Tiger of Jelutong's roar
COMMENT | On April 10, 2014, opposition Dewan Rakyat members walked out in protest against the verdict of the Dewan Rakyat speaker, in an unshakeable decision, that a substantive motion from the Gombak MP, supported by 63 members of the House on the conduct, or rather, the misconduct of judges in the country - referring to the three Court of Appeal judges Aziah Ali, Balia Yusuf Wali and Zawawi Salleh - in relation to Anwar Ibrahim's sodomy charge, be shoved down to number 21 of the Order Paper and would not see the light of day.
Needless to say, the huge outcry against the speaker for not exercising his powers in the Dewan Rakyat to allow for such a motion to be debated finally led to both the Gombak MP and Sepang MP to be ejected from the Dewan Rakyat, just before lunch.
It was also on that fateful Thursday that the late Karpal Singh made a powerful, compelling remark that would be forever etched in the stones of the august House and in the hearts and minds parliamentarians and Malaysians alike, not to fool around with the Federal Constitution, the supreme law of the land.
Karpal's last words, "Tuan Speaker, jangan main-main dengan perlembagaan," (Mr Speaker, don't play around with the constitution) roared thunderous in his last parliamentary debate, as the Bukit Gelugor MP, fiercely challenging the authority of the speaker to always place the Federal Constitution above the Dewan Rakyat standing orders.
Karpal, very calmly but sternly cautioned the speaker that the substantive motion under Standing Orders 36(8) by the Gombak MP be read in harmony with Article 127 of the Federal Constitution on the restriction on parliamentary discussion on the conduct of judges, which reads:
"The conduct of a judge of the Federal Court, the Court of Appeal or a High Court shall not be discussed in either House of Parliament, except on a substantive motion of which notice has been given by not less than one quarter of the total number of members of that House, and shall not be discussed in the legislative assembly of any state."
Where else should the conduct (or misconduct) of judges be debated if not in the august House by elected representatives, and yet the speaker used his discretion to shelve it.
I sat next to Karpal, three years ago, looking in awe, admiration and reverence at this towering figure next to me and his relentless struggle to fight for what is right, his indomitable spirit to be the defender of the defenceless and never compromising on his principle to speak without fear or favour for justice, fairness and honour.
Karpal's last parliamentary sitting is a timely and sound reminder, to all of us Malaysians, that no person is above the Federal Constitution, which is the cardinal, towering, unparalleled law of the land - a well-timed reminder to the judiciary, the prime minister and his BN government.
We remember you today, Karpal not for leaving a huge emptiness and void in our hearts because we miss you dearly, but for leaving a legacy for us all to carry on and carry forth so that the spirit of the Tiger of Jelutong, along with the spirit of constitutionality, not just lives on but ignites a fire, a determination to form government in Putrajaya.
KASHTURI PATTO is the Batu Kawan MP and DAP Wanita publicity secretary.
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