Senator’s lawyer urges court not to junk election petition on technicality

Opalyn Mok
Mohamad Rafique (left) told the court that the desires of the 51,904 voters who cast their ballots in Tasek Gelugor should be of prime importance. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

GEORGE TOWN, Aug 15 ― The High Court should fully evaluate the election petition filed by Senator Marzuki Yahya on the result for the Tasik Gelugor seat from the general election, his lawyer said today.

Marzuki's counsel, Mohamad Rafique Rashid Ali, urged the court not to look only at the technical points of the petition.

“The court should look at the election petition as a whole and there was no methods that showed this can be strike out based on a technicality,” he said in his submission against a preliminary objection by the first respondent, Barisan Nasional incumbent Datuk Shabudin Yahaya.

He told the court that the desires of the 51,904 voters who cast their ballots in Tasek Gelugor should be of prime importance.

The lawyer noted that Marzuki only lost by 81 ballots of 0.001 per cent of the total, which he said made it vital to consider the petition on its full merits.

Witnesses should at least be given a chance to present their evidence in court, he added.

Marzuki’s election petition also named the returning officer for Tasek Gelugor as the second respondent and the Election Commission as the third respondent.

Earlier, the court was told that the second and third respondents have withdrawn their preliminary objections against the petition even though they have submitted their written submissions for the preliminary objections.

Counsel for Shabudin, Simon Tan, said in his submissions that the petition submitted by Marzuki had cited the wrong section.

“The petition is defective, it is not precise, the rule they cited is wrong,” he said.

He said in a dispute on vote counts, it is the presiding officer who could do the recount at the respective polling stations.

Tan argued that the demand for the returning officer to specifically perform the recount was faulty as it was not the official’s duty to do so.

High Court judge Hashim Hamzah then fixed September 18 for a decision on whether to allow the preliminary objection.

He also fixed October 3 to 5 and October 22 to 24 to hear the election petition if the preliminary objection is dismissed.