Anwar’s eligibility to contest can be challenged, claim 2 lawyers

(The Star) – Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s eligibility to contest the Port Dickson parliamentary seat can be challenged in a court of law, say lawyers Aidil Khalid and Siti Kasim (pic).

Aidil, of Concerned Lawyers for Justice (CLJ), said it was up to the six other candidates contesting the seat to take the matter to court.

Aidil made this observation following the declaration by Election Commission chairman Azhar Azizan that Anwar, who was recently released from prison, was eligible to contest because Yang di-Pertuan Agong had granted him a “full pardon”.

He said the term “full pardon” had no constitutional basis.

Aidil said it was clear in the constitution that such a convict was only eligible if granted a free pardon, otherwise he would have to wait five years from the date of release from prison.

He said this was not merely a matter of semantics.

“The term ‘full pardon’ has no constitutional basis. This is not just a difference in semantics, but rather constitutional terms with far-reaching jurisprudential effects,” reiterated Aidil.

Anwar is engaged in a seven-cornered fight in the PKR-orchestrated Port Dickson by-election to pave the way for him to return to Parliament and stake his claim on premiership of the country.

Others contesting the seat include Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan, PAS candidate Mohd Nazari Mokhtar, former Teluk Kemang Umno chief Tan Sri Mohd Isa Abdul Samad. The other three contestants are Stevie Chan, Au Seck Yan, and Kan Chee Yuen.

Meanwhile activist lawyer Siti Kassim said Anwar was found guilty of the crime he was charged with. She said Article 42 of the Federal Constitution clearly stated that the powers of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong was limited to the pardon of sentence.

“The royal prerogative of mercy is used to permit the monarch to withdraw, or provide alternatives to death sentences.

“A royal pardon does not in itself overturn a conviction,” she said.

Siti noted that the monarch acted on the advice of the Pardons Board.

“The  monarch’s right to pardon is not based on legal considerations only and can be based on public policy, etc. In this situation, it seems the exercise of the powers to pardon by the monarch was based on policy or an elections manifesto of a political party which now forms the government,” she said.

Siti said the people should not be bound by such a political arrangement, as it is contrary to public interest and undermined the rule of law.