Citing postponed internal election, Umno members want party activities suspended

By Anith Adilah
Lawyer Hanif Khatri, Seri Merpati Pandan Indah Umno branch chief Salihudin Ahmad Khalid and Umno supporter Azman Naroh pose with the applications at the Kuala Lumpur Court Complex April 20, 2018. — Picture by Zuraneeza Zulkifli

KUALA LUMPUR, April 20 — Sixteen Umno members, including a branch chief, today filed a judicial review against Umno and the Registrar of Societies (RoS) today for allegedly violating its own constitution.

The group, represented by lawyer Haniff Khatri Abdulla, made three applications to the High Court involving the postponed party election, which is now set for April 19, 2019.

“We are of the opinion that the judicial review is needed because of Umno’s failure to adhere to its own constitution.

“Especially since RoS suddenly came out on March 5 saying it now allows Umno’s bid to postpone party elections to next year, when it was last held five years ago,” Haniff told a press conference at the Kuala Lumpur Courts Complex here.

First, the group is applying for a certiorari order for RoS to cancel its approval for the extension of party elections, as announced by RoS director-general Surayati Ibrahim on March 5.

The Umno members are also seeking for a mandamus order for the Court to compel RoS to investigate all reports made by party members since February 28 — the initial date which a party election at the branch level should have been held.

While the legal process is ongoing, the group is also seeking for the Court to suspend all Umno activities until the disposal of said action.

Seri Merpati Pandan Indah Umno branch chief Salihudin Ahmad Khalid, who heads the group of applicants, said he filed the application because there was no respond to his letter to RoS dated March 2.

“As someone who holds a position, I care about Umno’s interest. How can a party delay its elections for so long? Seriously, how long more should someone hold office?

“As much as I would like to be retained as the branch chief, I don’t want to hold a position without going through the appropriate method which is via an election. It is just unconstitutional,” said Salihudin, an Umno member since 2002.

When asked why the group chose to be represented by Haniff, who is known to be Pakatan Harapan chairman Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s lawyer, Salihudin said the decision was made because the two were longtime friends.

“We went to school together and we have been friends since the 80s. I believe in his legal expertise,” he said.

The last party elections were held on October 19, 2013.

Party president Datuk Seri Najib Razak in 2015 said that the elections initially due in 2016 had been postponed for 18 months as it need to make preparations for the 14th general election.

The 18-month extension was scheduled to expire yesterday.

However, on March 5, the RoS said it had allowed another postponement of the party elections as it is in accordance with the Clause 10.17 of the party constitution.

The Clause allegedly allows a further extension of 18 months, in addition to the three years allowed in Clause 9.3, making it a total of 56 months between the previous and the next polls.

However, Clause 10.17 does not exist in the Umno constitution.

Umno veterans Tan Sri Rais Yatim and Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz have since voiced their disapproval over the party getting two consecutive postponements.