Pua: DAP deregistration certain without fresh polls

(MM) – Continued resistance to re-election would have been futile as the Registrar of Societies (RoS) would have bent the law to strike the DAP from its lists, the party’s national publicity chief said today.

Alluding to unnamed “powers that be” that govern the RoS, the DAP’s Tony Pua said the opposition party was forced to hold fresh polls for its central executive committee (CEC) as ordered, to prevent its deregistration that he claimed would have been a matter of political expediency.

“Under normal and routine circumstances, the DAP would not have hesitated to strike out the ROS order in the courts of law,” he said in a statement.

Pua (picture), who is also Petaling Jaya Utara MP, said the party’s lawyers had checked the legal books and confirmed that the societies regulator had no authority to “punish” a party with fresh leadership elections.

But he argued that the party was not mounting a court challenge because a judicial review application would have given the RoS the “pretext” it needed to flex its muscles and terminate the DAP.

“[If] the ROS can abuse its non-existent powers to demand that DAP hold fresh elections, then certain it will not hesitate to abuse the powers which it has — that is to de-register a political party — if the powers that be deem it politically expedient and necessary,” Pua said.

“Hence the CEC has decided to proceed with a fresh election of the party leadership under protest, to prevent the risk of a devastating de-registration by the ROS,” he added.

On January 4, DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng revealed that an internal audit showed errors in the tabulation of votes from the December 15, 2012 party elections that he said were caused by a technical glitch when the results were transferred to a computer using the Microsoft Excel programme.

The amendments resulted in Lim’s political secretary, Zairil Khir Johari, moving up from 39th position to 20th ? the last elected position in the party’s CEC.

This resulted in the RoS investigating the party over the incident and subsequently ordering a new round of elections as it was “dissatisfied” with DAP’s explanations.

But the party had, until Wednesday, refused to comply with the RoS directive, saying it did not justify its order beyond saying it was “dissatisfied” with the party’s explanations.

The DAP’s acquiesance prompted Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin to remark yesterday that the party had known it had erred all along and was deliberately dragging out the dispute to gain public sympathy.

In his statement today, Pua responded by lashing out at his political foe, telling Khairy to show evidence of the RoS’s justification to order the DAP to hold re-election of its CEC.

The DAP lawmaker demanded the youth and sports minister retract his statement unless he could substantiate with facts.