Tribunal to probe EC members’ misconduct will not proceed after matter deemed academic, says chairman

Emmanuel Santa Maria Chin
Putrajaya had announced the setting up of the tribunal on Octber 17 last year to seek the removal of the six former EC members. — Picture by Hari Anggara

KUALA LUMPUR, May 24 — The special tribunal set up to investigate alleged election offences of six former Election Commission (EC) members will not go forth with their probe, after announcing a majority recommendation that deemed the matter in question was academic.

The recommendation was presented by tribunal chairman and retired Federal Court Judge, Tan Sri Amar Steve Shim Lip Kiong who said the objective of the tribunal to seek the removal of the six members was already met with their early retirement this year that was consented by the Yang DiPertuan Agong.

“The fundamental question today is this; is it in public or national interest to spend so much time, energy, and expense in going through potentially the whole cumbersome and objective exercise merely to seek the removal of the six commissioners, but they have already removed themselves whether voluntary or otherwise from the Election Commission.

“The answer in my view is obvious; I find no good in the public interest, it would be an exercise in futility,” said Shim.

The panel comprised of five former Federal Court judges that included Tan Sri Jeffrey Tan Kok Wha, Tan Sri Zaleha Zahari, Tan Sri Suriyadi Halim Omar, and Datuk Prasad Sandosham Abraham.

Shim then revealed that he, Zaleha and Suriyadi had voted in favour of the tribunal not going on further, with Prasad and Tan voting otherwise.

Both Zaleha and Suriyadi, when given the chance to read out their judgments, concurred with Shim, both echoing each other saying the matter in question was already deemed academic.

The two votes for the continuation of the tribunal from Prasad and Tan also shared common ground and agreed with each other when they said the subject in question was a matter of public interest and should be looked at in detail.

“It should be heard when there is good reason in public interest for doing so,” Tan said when reading out his judgment, referring to the tribunal.

 “The issue concerns public authority and public law.”

Tan, in driving home his point, added the tribunal should continue as it also involved the conduct of the implicated members who were at that time holding office in a position related to the practice of the Federal Constitution.

Putrajaya had announced the setting up of the tribunal on Octber 17 last year to seek the removal of the six former EC members.

Five of the EC commissioners — Tan Sri Othman Mahmood, Datuk Md Yusop Mansor, Datuk Abdul Aziz Khalidin, Datuk Sulaiman Narawi and Datuk Leo Chong Cheong — then resigned the following day.

The last remaining commissioner, Datuk K. Bala Singam, resigned on November 27.

All their resignations took effect on January 1 this year.

The six were being probed after thirteen charges were framed against them six, over their roles in preparing a controversial redelineation report and the manner in which GE14 was conducted.

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