KUALA LUMPUR: The tribunal looking into the allegation of misconduct committed by six former members of the Election Commission (EC) in the 14th General Election (GE14) today has ruled to not hear the case against them.
Retired Federal Court judge Tan Sri Amar Steve Shim, who chaired the panel, said the majority had decided the matter was now academic.
Panel members, retired federal court judges Tan Sri Zaleha Zahari and Tan Sri Suriyadi Halim Omar concurred in their decision that the case should not proceed, whilst Tan Sri Jeffrey Tan Kok Wha and Datuk Dr Prasad Sandosham Abraham opined that the tribunal should hear the matter as it involved national interest.
Shim decided that since the issue had been rendered academic it should not be heard unless there was a good reason.
“The question before us today is the main objective of this tribunal is merely to seek the removal of the six commissioners, but they have already removed themselves whether voluntary or otherwise from the EC. The answer in my view is obvious, I find no good in the public interest, it would be an exercise in futility.
“When the tribunal first met on Jan 28 this year all parties had appeared and submitted and during the proceedings, the main reason it was academic was because the six are no longer members of the EC,“ he said.
Jeffrey and Prasad on the other hand decided that the trial against the six men should proceed as it had to do with Malaysia’s democratic process, that their voluntary resignation from the EC did not prevent them from investigations of misconduct while in public office.
Shim said the tribunal would submit the report on today’s decision to the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong.
On Oct 17, 2018, the government was reported to have begun setting up the tribunal to investigate Tan Sri Othman Mahmood, Datuk Md Yusop Mansor, Datuk Abdul Aziz Khalidin, Datuk Sulaiman Narawi, Datuk K. Bala Singam Karupiah and Datuk Leo Chong Cheong.
A day later, five members of the EC announced their resignation from office whilst the one remaining member, Bala Singam tendered his resignation on Nov 27, 2018.
Thirteen charges were framed against the six in connection with their role in preparing the controversial redelineation report and the manner in which GE14 on May 9, 2018, was conducted.
The allegations included gerrymandering, setting the bare minimum (11 days) campaigning period, failure to take action against election offences, setting the polling day on a Wednesday, and making arbitrary and unreasonable election regulations.
Othman, Md Yusop, Abdul Aziz and Sulaiman were represented by lawyers Datuk Shaharudin Ali and Mohd Khairul Azam Abdul Aziz, while Bala Singam and Leo were represented by K. Balaguru and R. Kengadharan respectively.
Meanwhile, Attorney-General Tommy Thomas said he was disappointed with the ruling and the tribunal’s concern on the time, expenses and energy involved if the tribunal were to proceed.
“Does it matter if it is going to take two months to inquire the truth?
“We will have to study the recommendations made by the panel once they have submitted the report to the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong and I will advise the government to release it (the report),“ he said. - Bernama