The tale behind these Constitutional essays

You have seen the articles emerging from this blog since 09 May 2018 — or ‘5-0-9’ as I called the GE14 (the date of May 09th, 2018). There is a story behind these articles. Their production and timing were wholly accidental. In the years to come the people may become quiescent.  They may, once again, […]

You have seen the articles emerging from this blog since 09 May 2018 — or ‘5-0-9’ as I called the GE14 (the date of May 09th, 2018).

There is a story behind these articles.

Their production and timing were wholly accidental.

In the years to come the people may become quiescent.  They may, once again, feel re-assured behind their closed doors.

But these issues filled the night of 5-0-9, like night-tracer shells from artillery.  In a death-battle locked between a leviathan refusing to go, and a babe-in-arms led by a wily old man, these issues raged between the contenders, like tracer bullets.  Only one could stay.  The other had to leave.  And departure meant death.

So, both strove mightily.

Although not a shot was fired in this transition of power, there were real life-and death battlesfor the hearts and minds of the police, the armed forces, the Election Commission, the ruling party, and, the rakyat. The people stood firm, but strong winds of sedition buffeted their minds.  Cyber troopers fanned these lies.  These scare mongers were (and are) well-entrenched, and well-fed; continually spewing poison and hatred; and straining at their leashes.  Their scourge  was felt during ruthless misinformation campaigns: these continue unabated.

In the midst of all this, the rakyat finally got involved.  The people evinced a desire to have open discussions, even on sensitive subjects.  They engaged those in power. They refused to conceal themselves behind silly old party lines. They cast off their fear of reprisals.

The nation was ravenous. This brought about palpable- and sweeping- changes in mind-sets: across a whole gamut of subjects. People showed so much care and concern for their government that it was, oddly touching.

So, while the debates raged about them, the rakyat had to be kept updated with legal knowledge. The rakyat were being hoodwinked. They couldn’t tell the truth from falsehood.  They had to be armed with the ability to discuss constitutional power.  They had to see its abuse.  They had to ask the right legal questions.  They had to have a neutral place for reference. And decide what they were going to do about it.

I had hoped that these articles would become that neutral reference library.  One anyone could access.

Hourly, events forced me to ‘rush-write’.  There was no time to plan anything.  There were windows of opportunity lasting less than a few hours–often, minutes.  An urgent, well researched legal opinion had to be rushed out.  People would call:  ‘Can you write on this that or the other’, they’d ask.  Sometimes I could oblige.

There were numerous problems: one was to write the way news portals liked.  The other was that the man on the street was not interested in legal arguments.

The real problem was getting it get across to the citizenry.   Essays had to be made easily readable.  It was difficult enough to write on a legal subject.  It was far more difficult to write simply and lucidly.  I had never been a journalist.  I never understood their writing technique,  their discipline, or their speed.

But I tried anywayand stumbled.

On 09 May 2018, I was aghast at what was happening.  I saw it on TV.  Election Officials mulishly refused to sign Form 14. Without that, EC said, it would not declare a candidate a winner.  When pressed, they said, ‘Saya tunggu arahan!’

I had done some election law work after GE-13 (2013).  Calls came in, asking me to ‘do something.’

And so, among many other writers who placed their pens at the rakyat’s disposal, I thought I’d do my own small part.

And so, I wrote out on an iPhone X.  I offered an answer to the caller’s question.  Using social media I despatched it to lawyer friends.

Then at about 9.30 p.m., on the same day, obstacles were put in Tun Mahathir’s path. There were attempts to prevent him from being accepted as PM.  By a well-managed campaign, they published untruths.  It looked like  it would mislead an entire nation.  It was widely stated that ‘only the party with the most number of MPs could choose a Prime Minister’.  An article dealing with how Article 43(2)(a) of the Federal Constitution must be construed—was sent out.  The essay argued that the PM could be ‘any person who had numerical, majority support of the MPs,’ no matter which party they were from.

Yet again, a second problem arose.  Someone said the King had had the ‘discretion to refuse Tun Mahathir from becoming prime minister.’

Another article on how Article 40(1A) of the Constitution must be construed, was sent out. That essay argued that when the King was to ‘act on the advice of the PM’ — His Majesty ‘shall act’ on the advice of the PM’ — that His Majesty had no discretion in the matter.

Things came to a head when Tommy Thomas was being proposed as Attorney General.  He was well-suited to the post. At the eleventh hour, some naysayers took the point that an AG could not be a non-Muslim, for he ‘had a duty to advise the Cabinet and the King on Syariah law.’  ‘A Malay person was needed,’ they said.  ‘Someone who knew Syariah law.’  They alleged that this requirement disqualified Mr Thomas. Within hours, an article on Article 145(3) of the Federal Constitution was again, sent forth. The essay argued that Article 145(3) in fact  banned the AG from advising on Syariah law; and by extension, any judge from a civil court.

Afterwards, again, a blogger wrote that the ex-PM was ‘immune from’ any criminal charge; that the AG could not charge him in court.  The citizenry was agog.  So, an essay went out arguing that like any man in the nation, no man was above the law, not even the prime minister.

Again, there were real issues that needed immediate attention.  One was the reformation of the judiciary.  Nine days after 5-0-9 Malaysiakini carried it.

Of the 13 articles, 9 have been uploaded to gkg.legal/blog.

These articles were written so that they could arm the Rakyat with the knowledge of Constitutional Law. They discuss, in simple language, matters of current interest. Sometimes news portals were kind enough to publish them. Sometimes they didn’t. And so, people don’t get to read these things. Eventually I put them in a blog (www.gkg.legal/blog). And fell back upon a Facebook page.

That these were not ‘newsworthy’ did not mean they did not have long-term seeds living within them.

Seeds which needed to be planted immediately and watered into life and health.

Seeds, I hope, that will bear fruits for the benefit of our descendants.

 

 

 

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