KUALA LUMPUR: Johor DAP chairman Liew Chin Tong says he will push for reforms for a fair electoral process after his petition to challenge the results of the Ayer Hitam parliamentary seat was dismissed by an election court today.
“We will pursue electoral reform through other avenues, including the parliamentary process.
“We hope there will be less of the kind of conduct like what I experienced during the campaign (in the May general election),” he said after the court’s decision.
Liew was referring to Election Commission (EC) officers taking down DAP billboards bearing images of Pakatan Harapan chairman Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Rosmah Mansor, the wife of the former prime minister Najib Razak, during the campaign period.
In the May 9 polls, Liew was defeated by MCA deputy president Wee Ka Siong who defended the seat by a majority of 303 votes in a three-cornered contest.
Liew polled 16,773 votes compared to Wee’s 17,076 votes. PAS’ candidate Mardi Marwan received 4,975 votes.
Liew, who is now a senator and deputy defence minister, filed the petition in June, seeking to nullify the election results and subsequently for an order to be issued for a by-election.
He claimed he was prevented from using billboards of Mahathir and Rosmah and this interfered with his electoral rights.
Election judge Nazlan Ghazali said Liew failed to state in his petition how the removal of DAP’s campaign billboards affected the results of the election.
After the court’s decision, Liew congratulated Wee on his victory in court.
Asked by reporters whether he would appeal the ruling, Liew said he would discuss the matter with his lawyer, Yeo Yang Poh.
Yeo said filing an appeal would be one of the options but “it would involve discussions on various factors”.
He said one reason they filed the petition was to find out whether the courts would take a different approach from previous rulings that favoured “strict compliance” in pleading facts in election petitions.
“I think in future, we will have other opportunities to present similar cases to the courts to consider our views and taking a progressive and liberal approach to hear the full merits of cases rather than dismissing them on technical grounds,” he said.
Wee, who was also present in court, said the results have quashed allegations that MCA won the election with “dubious votes”.
“I can finally clear my name with this result and move forward,” he said.
Wee, who is a four-term MP, said Aug 23 is another “historic date” for him in defending his Ayer Hitam seat.
“I was not in the polling centre when the results were announced on May 9, but the court today has affirmed the results and my status,” he said.