KUALA LUMPUR: The issue of setting up a tribunal to investigate the alleged misconduct of Election Commission (EC) commissioners does not arise, the Dewan Rakyat was told today following news that the terms of five EC members had been shortened.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Liew Vui Keong said news of a tribunal was only known through media reports and that there was no EC involvement at present.
“At this time, based on the current development of the shortening of tenures of the commissioners, the issue of setting up a tribunal does not arise,” he said.
Liew (Warisan-Batu Sapi) was responding to Khoo Poay Tiong (PH-Kota Melaka) who had asked whether it was true that the government would establish a tribunal to investigate the claims of EC misconduct, especially in the May 9 polls.
Last week, the EC announced that the five commissioners – Othman Mahmood, Md Yusop Mansur, Abdul Aziz Khalidin, Sulaiman Narawi and Leo Chong Cheong – would vacate their positions on Jan 1 next year. Another commissioner, K Bala Singam, will remain in office.
Liew, who is de facto law minister, said under Article 125 of the Federal Constitution, the king can appoint a tribunal to evaluate the sacking of any commissioner upon the advice of the prime minister.
Khoo also asked about the possibility of setting up a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) to probe the misconduct in the absence of a tribunal, and what the government could do to ensure that the issues in the 14th general election would not be repeated.
To this, Liew said the EC under the leadership of its new chairman Azhar Harun was in the midst of being reformed.
“I believe he will improve the EC process and reform the EC, as well as resolve the issues concerning the commission.
“To the question of manipulation and other forms of election misconduct, the problems have been discussed and debated in the Dewan. Also, election petitions have been filed in court, and the courts have decided on the election offences.
“I was made to understand that the petitions have already been heard by the courts. I am confident that the issues can be handled by the new chairman, as well as the new commissioners. There is no need to set up an RCI,” he said.
To Annuar Musa (BN-Ketereh), who asked whether the new chairman would be able to do his job well given his record as an activist, Liew said Azhar’s appointment had been accepted by the king on the advice of the prime minister.
“The appointment has been well received by the government. I am of the view that as an activist, Azhar will be able to do his job professionally, and reform the EC so that the commission will be more responsible, especially to ensure the problems raised by Kota Melaka will no longer arise.
“I hope all MPs will give their full support to Azhar to helm the EC,” he added.
Malaysiakini previously reported that Putrajaya had initiated a tribunal to investigate six EC members appointed by the previous administration for alleged misconduct.
Last month, electoral watchdog Bersih 2.0 urged the government to sack the EC commissioners and called for a tribunal to pave the way for the appointment of reform-minded commissioners.
“This is important as some reform measures such as cleaning up the existing electoral rolls, the management of elections and campaigning rules do not need further study,” Bersih chairman Shahrul Aman Mohd Saari had told FMT.