KUALA LUMPUR: Attorney General Tommy Thomas is “disappointed” that the tribunal set up to look into alleged offences by six former Election Commission (EC) members in the 14th General Election has decided not to proceed because it would be academic and expensive.
“I think right-thinking people in Malaysia would question: Does it matter if it takes two months and is expensive to inquire the truth?” he said to reporters on Friday (May 24) after the tribunal announced its decision.
In a 3-2 vote, the tribunal decided that any proceedings held would be merely academic since the six former EC members had already resigned.
Retired Federal Court judge Tan Sri Steve Shim said that the proceedings not be in public or national interest as it would take up time, energy, and expense.
“Any of you who lived in Malaysia in the two to three years leading to GE14 would recognise these complaints,” he added.
Thomas said there would be five separate recommendations on the matter to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and the Prime Minister.
He said the King would decide under Article 125(3) of the Federal Constitution if the proceedings go ahead or otherwise, as the tribunal panel only made recommendations.
He added that he would advise the government to release these recommendations to the public.
“I am very disappointed. I think all right-thinking Malaysians will be disappointed.
“All of us who took part in the elections will be disappointed. To say that the country can’t afford time and convenience to investigate the matter is not correct.
“The country can afford it,” he said.
The six former EC members concerned are 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.
Bersih 2.0 chairman Thomas Fann also expressed disappointment with the decision of the tribunal.
“We had been looking forward with the tribunal going on simply because it would vindicate our assertions so far that we did not have free and fair elections despite the result,” he said.
In August 2018, the electoral reform group Bersih 2.0 sent a letter to Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and urged him to investigate the commission, alleging that they had committed several offences, including malapportionment and gerrymandering.
Fann said they would explore with lawyers the next course of action.
“Certainly there is a sense that among ourselves and the public that justice wasn’t served today and we have to continue to seek justice in different ways,” said Fann.
Counsel K. Balaguru, who is acting for Bala Singam, said they accepted the decision of the tribunal and would wait and see what the Yang di-Pertuan Agong would do.
“Then it is up to the Attorney General as advisor to the King to advise him on what ought to be done. You see the irony in this,” he said. THE STAR
Tribunal panel ‘missed bigger picture’, says Maria
YOU have missed the bigger picture and the chance to grill former Election Commission (EC) officials about whether their actions during the previous general election (GE14) contravened the Federal constitution, Petaling Jaya MP Maria Chin Abdullah has said regarding the EC tribunal’s decision not to proceed any further.
“It is disappointing for the tribunal to make such a decision. It is not a matter of whether the previous commissioners resigned voluntarily,” she said.
“The tribunal needs to look at the bigger picture, ie to interrogate the former commissioners to find out if they contravened the Federal Constitution and laws of Malaysia.
“Did they deliver justice and a free and fair election in carrying out their work on delineation, new voter registration, protected suffrage rights, election processes and other election issues?” said the former Bersih 2.0 chairman, adding the premature end to the tribunal has left these issues unresolved.
He said the six people in question had already stepped down and that public interest would not be served to spend more resources on the matter.
“EC Commissioners, past or present, must be held to a higher standard when they carry out important work, especially for national elections which touch the rights of every citizen.
“By disbanding the tribunal it sends the message that it’s OK to violate election laws and the Constitution, as long as you retire or resign before being brought to trial.
“It means that election staff can enjoy immunity (from prosecution) for their offences.”
The tribunal needed to reconsider its decision and resolve election issues that have plagued the country for more than 60 years, said Maria. THE MALAYSIAN INSIGHT
Premature end to EC tribunal doesn’t serve public interests, says Fahmi
THE premature end to the tribunal on alleged misconduct by election commissioners during the last elections leaves a bitter after taste for those seeking answers, said Fahmi Fadzil.
“While the public at large may accept that the Election Commission (EC) commissioners in question have since quit their posts, it does not satisfy our need for answers on how the redelineation process was allowed to take place in the manner we witnessed.
“The public needs to know how is it that the kind of gerrymandering – ultimately aimed to keep Barisan Nasional in power – can be stopped from recurring in the future,” the Lembah Pantai MP told The Malaysian Insight today.
“More importantly, the public needs to know what are the steps that the current EC will take to correct the imbalances caused by that redelineation exercise in order to realise the principle of ‘one person, one vote’,” said the PKR communications director.
Tribunal chairman and retired Federal Court judge Steve Shim said the six people in question had already stepped down and that public interest would not be served to spend more resources on the matter.
Meanwhile, Bersih 2.0 resource person Wong Chin Huat said having the tribunal itself has sent a strong signal to all public servants that they will be held accountable for their actions.
“While the Attorney-General’s Chambers has managed to convince only two out of five tribunal panel members, and not a majority to pursue the proper tribunal, it has nevertheless sent a strong signal to all public servants that they may be accountable some day for actively betraying their mandates or passively abdicating their duties.
“The days of impunity for high-level misconduct is over and future public servants may not be so lucky,” said Wong.
He said the previous commissioners, including the former chairman, had escaped this process by resigning.
“Even if they had made contributions earlier in their services as civil servants, their last stint at the EC would be the one that defines their career records.
“As such, I applaud the attorney-general, Tommy Thomas and all parties for their efforts in various ways to hold the other six accountable.” THE MALAYSIAN INSIGHT
THE STAR / THE MALAYSIAN INSIGHT