MALAYSIA Tanah Tumpah Darahku



10 APRIL 2024

Friday, June 30, 2023

PAS' image dented by election court ruling

By now, I believe most of us would have known that the Election Court in Terengganu invalidated Ahmad Amzad Hashim’s victory in the Kuala Terengganu parliamentary seat during last year’s 15th general election (GE15).

The decision was in respect of the election petition filed by Mohd Zubir Embong, the BN candidate for the seat, challenging the validity of the result.

In GE15, Amzad - who was the PAS candidate then - won the seat with a very handsome majority of 40,907 votes. Was the said election victory really fair and clean? The election court seemed to think otherwise.

In declaring PAS’ victory null and void, the learned judge, inter alia, ruled that the said election was substantially marred by corrupt practices, hence infringing the Election Offences Act 1954 (Act 5).

Indeed, it was a bizarre twist of events. This time around, it was Umno that accused PAS of committing a series of bribes or corrupt practices in Kuala Terengganu during GE15.

To rub salt into the wound, the court completely agreed with Umno’s allegations. Thus, the corrupt practices were really committed by the PAS machinery in Kuala Terengganu during the said election.

In the election petition, Umno alleged that PAS had unduly bribed voters by distributing financial aid from the state government through the i-Pension, i-Belia, and i-Student initiatives from Nov 15 to 17, 2022, just a few days before GE15.

As far as the cash aid distribution was concerned, the judge unhesitatingly found that the programme was unduly infected by corrupt practices.

The judge believed that the crimes of bribery were clearly committed therein by way of handing out the sum of RM150 per person (a one-off financial aid by the state government) to registered voters.

Such corrupt practices - the judge held - were clearly against Section 10(1) of Act 5, thus by virtue of Section 32(c) of the same act, the court was empowered to declare that such corrupt practices would render the said election to be unsafe, unclean, unfair, and thus null and void.

After all, a fair and clean election is the bedrock of democracy!

The court’s decision showed that all the substantial parts of the allegations of corrupt practices raised in Umno’s election petition were proven true.

Since the court ruled that there were corrupt practices in the Kuala Terengganu seat during GE15, one may ask: “Can the perpetrators of such corrupt practices be charged in court for criminal offences?”

In my view, yes the attorney-general may charge them under Section 11(1) of Act 5. I don’t see any reason for the prosecution to be barred from invoking the MACC Act 2009 as well, should it have the audacity to bring the offenders to book.

PAS, however, may not be happy with the court’s decision and its potentially devastating political impact.

All this while, the party proclaimed itself to be a corruption-free entity. Is such a self-proclamation still sustainable?

Until and unless such a powerful decision would be duly reversed by the Federal Court, assuming the apex court agreed to allow the PAS appeal in the future, the party’s image and integrity have been severely dented. - Mkini

MOHAMED HANIPA MAIDIN is a former deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Parliament and Law).

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of MMKtT.

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