No pass needed at nomination centres, so why kick out Streram, court told

PKR candidate Dr Streram Sinnasamy was refused entry to the Dewan Sri Rembau nomination centre in April. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: There is nothing in election laws prohibiting a candidate, his proposer and seconder from entering a nomination centre without an entry pass, a lawyer recently told the Election Court.

Muhammad Rafique Rashid Ali said returning officers (ROs) were also empowered to allow candidates to submit their nomination papers without the need for such a pass.

“However, in our case, the RO’s refusal to allow the candidate for Rantau, his proposer and seconder, to enter the centre was done in bad faith,” he said in a written submission sighted by FMT.

He was referring to Amino Agos Suyub, who refused to allow PKR candidate Dr Streram Sinnasamy to enter the centre to file his nomination papers on April 28.

The submission was filed on Monday following the conclusion of the election petition brought by Streram.

Rafique, his lawyer, said the privilege of allowing candidates to enter nomination centres to submit their papers was provided for in the election guide book prepared for ROs and their assistants under Regulation 4 (8) of the Conduct of Elections Regulations 1981.

He said Negeri Sembilan Election Commission (EC) director Afizam Abdullah Sani had also testified that ROs could not exercise their discretion in stopping candidates from entering.

“This exception is only applied to walk-in candidates, their proposers and seconders,” Afizam had said.

In the 94-page submission, Rafique said the police were also absolved from any criminal offence or civil liability as Inspector-General of Police Mohamad Fuzi Harun and investigating officer Mohd Azizul Zakaria had testified that the officers on duty only took instruction from the RO and EC staff.

“The RO has absolute control of the proceedings on nomination day,” he added.

Rafique said Agos had also coached his assistant Daing Muhammad Rahimi Abdul Hamid to give evidence that was aimed at concealing the truth.

Agos has since been found guilty of contempt of court and sentenced to three months in jail. He has filed an appeal against the decision.

In his petition, Streram claimed the RO and EC had breached their statutory duty under the Election Offences Act, and that the results must be nullified and a by-election held.

However, lawyers for Agos and the EC said there was insufficient evidence to show non-compliance with the law in order for the court to order a fresh election.

“Moreover, the RO did not know that Streram was waiting outside the nomination centre,” said Satya Kumardas and Marina Nasution who prepared an 80-page submission.

On May 23, Streram filed his petition to nullify the EC’s decision to declare former Negeri Sembilan menteri besar Mohamad Hasan as the winner of the Rantau state seat.

He said he was never informed by the EC or its agents that name tags or an entry pass were required to gain access to the Dewan Sri Rembau nomination centre.

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 staff 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 he asked a policeman to call an EC officer from the centre to provide the tags, but none came out.

He said Yusof Tapar, the proposer for the opposition candidate contesting the Rembau parliament seat and later the candidate for the Paroi seat, Mohamad Taufek Abdul Ghani, came out of the centre to help him get in but were unsuccessful.

At about 9.40am, two EC officers came out to meet Streram and assured him they were making arrangements to provide the passes. They went back to the centre but did not return.

Agos later declared Mohamad as the winner as there was no other contestant for the seat.

Election judge Azimah Omar, who heard evidence from 17 witnesses, is scheduled to deliver her verdict by Nov 23.