EC decision on Perak challenged (updated)

By Clara Chooi & Florence A. Samy, The Star

Pakatan Rakyat has given the Election Commission 48 hours to review its decision that Behrang and Changkat Jering assemblymen Jamaluddin Mohd Radzi and Mohd Osman Mohd Jailu retained their seats and no by-elections were necessary.

Perak DAP chief Datuk Ngeh Koo Ham said that should the Commission fail to do so, Pakatan would embark on its next course of action.

He would not say what form this action would take.

Ngeh said that the Commission did not have the jurisdiction to inquire into the validity of the two resignation letters sent to Perak Legislative Assembly speaker V. Sivakumar on Sunday.

He said that under Article 113 of the Federal Constitution, the Commission was compelled to conduct elections and had no right second-guess the decision of the speaker.

“The law does not allow the Commission to conduct any inquiry, any dissatisfaction must be decided by the court.

“In this were the case, it can even refuse to proceed with elections despite being notified by the Prime Minister that Parliament has been dissolved,” he said at the Perak DAP headquarters here Tuesday.

The Commission had earlier Tuesday decided that Jamaluddin and Mohd Osman were still the assemblymen for their seats because they had sent letters disputing the validity of the resignation letters.

“But how do we know if this is true? Until today, both men have not surfaced. We do not even know if they are dead or alive,” he said.

In PETALING JAYA, DAP national advisor Lim Kit Siang said the Commission had acted unconstitionally by refusing to recognise the Perak state assembly speaker’s decision to hold by-elections.

“The Commission’s constitutional duty is to act on the Perak speaker’s official notification on the vacancy of the two state assembly seats and call for by-elections to be held in the next 60 days,” he said in a statement Tuesday.

He said the Commission had no jurisdiction to dispute the speaker’s decision.

“Any such legal challenge should come from Jamaluddin and Mohd Osman if they want to challenge the legality of their resignations from their respective state assembly seats,” he said.

As far as PKR is concerned, the Changkat Jering and Behrang seats are still vacant, said the party’s information chief Tian Chua.

“It is not the Commission’s role to question the Speaker’s decision. Its job is to conduct elections, that’s it. Now it is interfering with the Speaker’s prerogative.

“It is not up to the Commission to doubt whether the resignation letters are valid or not unless there is a court injunction by the two state assemblyman stating that the Speaker’s decision is wrong,” he said.

Jamaluddin and Mohd Osman have denied they resigned, claiming they were made to sign the letters last March “under duress.”

By refusing a by-election, the Commission was denying Changkat Jering and Behrang voters the right to representation as the “seats are now vacant,” he said.

“If the two (Jamaluddin or Mohd Osman) tried to enter the Assembly, they would not be able to go in as the Speaker has said the seats are vacant,” he said.

He said neither Jamaluddin nor Mohd Osman had contacted party leaders to explain their actions or disappearance.

The two had gone missing for more than a week, fuelling speculation that they would be joining Umno.