SEREMBAN: A returning officer has accepted responsibility for the negligence or omissions of his subordinates who failed to provide an entry pass to enable a PKR candidate to file his nomination papers in the 14th general election (GE14).
“I was responsible as I was the highest-ranking officer in the conduct of the election in the Rembau parliamentary seat,” Amino Agos Suyub said when cross-examined by the petitioner’s lawyer, Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla.
Agos, who is also Rembau district officer, said he authorised the issuance of about 1,000 passes during the election but the processing and distribution were done by his staff.
He said this in the hearing of an election petition brought by Dr Streram Sinnasamy against him and the Election Commission (EC).
Streram said Agos and the EC had denied his right to contest the Rantau seat in the May 9 general election.
Streram told the court that he had paid RM8,000 in election deposit at the Seremban EC office.
He said he was never informed by the EC or its agents that name tags or entry passes were required to enter the Dewan Sri Rembau nomination centre on April 28.
He said at about 4.30pm on April 27, a friend told him to get the passes at the Rembau district office. He said he arrived there at 6.45pm but the office was closed.
An unidentified woman told him that he could collect the tags at Dewan Sri Rembau the following day.
Streram said he and his proposer and seconder arrived at the centre at 8am to collect the tags in order to file his papers at 9am.
He said at 9.40am, two EC officers came out to meet him and assured him that they were making arrangements to provide the passes. They went back to the centre but did not return.
Questioned by Haniff, Agos said he was unaware Streram, his proposer and seconder were outside the nomination centre until about 10am.
“My subordinate did not tell me but that does not absolve me from blame. I also do not know whether the police stopped Streram from coming into the nomination centre,” he said.
Agos agreed with Haniff that the returning officer had the authority to allow candidates to file their nomination papers between 9am and 10am.
Earlier, Agos told the election court that at 9.55am, the PKR candidate for the Paroi state seat Mohamad Taufek Abdul Ghani caused a commotion and argued with one of his assistant returning officers after the latter refused to allow Streram to enter the nomination centre.
“It was noisy due to loud protest by other PKR candidates. I instructed my assistant returning officers to calm them and headed to my desk to process the nomination papers,” he said when questioned by his lawyer, Sathya Kumardas.
Apart from Rantau and Paroi, the Chembong and Kota state seat are also under the Rembau parliamentary constituency.
The Rantau state assembly seat was won uncontested by Mohamad Hasan, the former Negeri Sembilan menteri besar and assemblyman for the constituency since 2004.
Streram wants the election court to declare Mohamad’s victory illegal and that a by-election should be held.
He said the EC had breached provisions in the Election Offences Act 1954 and regulations when its officers did not order the police to allow him, his proposer and seconder into the nomination centre.
As a result, he said, although he was qualified, he was denied the constitutional right to contest in the election.
“The voters in Rantau were also not given the chance to cast their ballots,” he said.