Tribunal proceedings on EC not merely academic — Tommy Thomas

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KUALA LUMPUR (Jan 30): Attorney General Tommy Thomas today stressed that the tribunal proceedings pertaining to the Election Commission former members held on Monday were not merely academic even though the persons in question have quit.

He said there had been much misconception and misinformation surrounding the tribunal proceedings.

“It is a fact that members of the Election Commission resigned from their office — five members on Oct 18, 2018, and one member on Nov 27, 2018 — effective Jan 1, this year."

He said this in a statement to clarify the position taken by the Attorney-General’s Chambers on the preliminary issues raised by the tribunal chairman (Tan Sri Amar Steve Shim Lip Kiong).

Thomas said there were four reasons why the proceedings before the tribunal were not academic, namely, two-fold mandate; scrutiny and investigation; deliberate action and real effect or outcome.

On the two-fold mandate, he said, the tribunal, firstly, was to investigate actions on the part of EC members, before and on polling day on May 9, 2018, with regard to the preparation of the 14th General Election (GE14), to determine if there was any misconduct and secondly, to make recommendations to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on appropriate action to be taken against them, including removal from office.

“The tribunal must first carry out an investigation into their conduct as stated in the 13 charges against them, to determine the facts as to the issue of misconduct. These are very serious charges which, if established, will demonstrate personal culpability on the part of the EC members for the way in which GE14 was organised,” he said.

“The acts or ommissions of six EC former members cannot be immune from scrutiny and investigation of the tribunal simply because they have resigned,” he said.

He said it was clear that the resignation of the EC members was a deliberate move to frustrate the tribunal’s investigations, and to avoid ignominy, with all other consequences.

“Their resignations were tendered immediately after it was reported that the Government had begun the process of establishing such a tribunal, and yet, were 'post-dated' unilaterally by the EC members to take effect only on Jan 1, this year."

Meanwhile, he said, the outcome of the tribunal proceedings could potentially affect any benefits that they were due to receive.

“Ultimately, the tribunal is free to decide on the preliminary issue as it wishes, and to make recommendations to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong,” he said.

The six former EC members are Tan Sri Othman Mahmood (former deputy chairman of the EC), Datuk Md Yusop Mansor, Datuk Abdul Aziz Khalidin, Datuk Sulaiman Narawi, Datuk K. Bala Singam and Datuk Leo Chong Cheong.