Thursday, April 10, 2008

Door now open for election petitions

Thursday, 10 April 2008 (Daily Express) - Election Commission (EC) Sabah Director, Haji Mohd Idrus Ismail, said candidates in the recent elections who wish to file election petitions are now at liberty to do so.

According to him, the EC gazetted the March 8 election results on Tuesday (April 8), leaving the door open to candidates for both Parliamentary and State seats until April 29 this year to file their petitions. He also said if anyone intends to contest the result of the Kalabakan parliamentary constituency, which was won unopposed (by Datuk Abdul Ghapur Salleh), they would have to file the petition by today (April 9).

"This is because we have gazetted it earlier, on March 19," he stressed. As provided for under Article 118 of the Federal Constitution, candidates who object to the outcome of the election results and who have strong evidence to do so may file an election petition with the High Court to review the results.

In Sabah, among those expected to go to court are Parti Keadilan Rakyat (Keadilan) and defeated DAP candidate for the Sandakan Parliamentary seat, Shanty Chong.

PKR State Liaison Committee Chairman, Ansari Abdullah, has stated that the party would be filing election petitions over the parliamentary areas of Pensiangan, Papar, Kota Belud and Tuaran and the State seats of Kota Kinabalu, Pantai Manis and Kimanis.

He claimed the Barisan Nasional (BN) failed to honour many of its promises such as getting rid of serial numbers on the ballot papers, among others, and scrapping of the indelible ink plan.

On the continued practice of putting serial numbers on the ballot papers, he contended it was clearly denying the voters' democratic rights to make a choice without fear or favour.

He also claimed that the postal votes could have had a role in the massive defeat of Keadilan candidates in Sabah.

"All the election workers were asked to cast their votes through postal system (and) they are all civil servants. Once you put serial numbers on the ballot papers, the civil servants have no choice but to vote for the Government."

Ansari had also claimed that the business community and village folk including in Kiulu and Tamparuli were threatened into voting for the BN by being told their subsidy, rubber seedlings, fertiliser, electricity or any assistance would be recalled if they voted otherwise.

He said the party had lodged more than 100 police reports all over the State about such threats.

Chong, who lost by a mere 176 votes to LDP President and BN's Datuk VK Liew had alleged irregularities during the counting of votes and refusal by the Returning Officer to entertain her request for a recount, among others.

General Election Malaysia 2004 Report revealed that there were a total of 43 petitions - 17 against parliamentary seats and 26 against State seats were registered with the High Courts throughout the country.

The highest number was in Kelantan with seven against State seats. Sabah filed three petitions - two State, against Api-Api and Lahad Datu and one, parliamentary area, Ranau.

All the petitions were resolved by the High Courts by Oct 29, 2004. Out of the 43 election petitions that were submitted, 42 were rejected by the Election Judges.

Only one petition from the parliamentary constituency of Pasir Puteh, Kelantan was accepted. The Election Judge ruled that the result was null and void and consequently declared the BN candidate as the winner.

Meanwhile, Mohd Idrus advised all candidates to submit their expenditure reports by May 9.

According to Section 23 of the Election Offences Act 1954, candidates contesting are required to submit a statement of their election expenditure within a period of 31 days from the date the election results were gazetted.

In accordance with the provisions of the law, candidates or their election agents who failed to submit their election expenses may be disqualified from voting as well as contesting in elections for the next five years from the gazette of the election results.

In the 2004 election, there were 39 offenders throughout the country with Sabah recording the highest number, 12. Two were from Parti Keadilan, four, Independents, one, Pasok and five, Parti Setia.

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