AG says ex-EC members cannot escape punishment despite resignations

Some of the former members of the Election Commission. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: Attorney-General Tommy Thomas said the outcome of the tribunal to investigate allegations of misconduct by six former Election Commission (EC) members during last year’s general election will not be academic, adding the Constitution provides for appropriate action to be taken against them based on recommendations to the Agong.

“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,” Thomas said in a statement.

The tribunal has reserved judgment after hearing the case.

It is understood that 13 charges were framed against the six former EC members in connection with their role in preparing the redelineation report and the manner in which the May 9 polls were conducted.

The six – Othman Mahmood, Md Yusop Mansor, Abdul Aziz Khalidin, Sulaiman Narawi, Bala Singam Karupiah and Leo Chong Cheong – quit shortly after the government’s announcement that a tribunal would be set up to investigate claims of misconduct against them.

However, Thomas said the actions of the six “cannot be immune from scrutiny and investigation” by the tribunal simply because they had resigned.

Thomas said panel members could possibly see their pensions and benefits withdrawn if found guilty of misconduct.

“The outcome of the tribunal proceedings can potentially have direct financial implications on the EC members’ entitlements to pensions and other benefits, which will accrue to them on resignation, but may not be payable if they are removed,” he said.

Thomas then trained his guns on the former EC members, accusing them of trying to frustrate the tribunal’s investigations by resigning and attempting to “avoid the ignominy of being removed”.

Thomas had last week announced the setting up of the tribunal comprising five retired Federal Court judges, chaired by former High Court judge Steven Shim.

The other members are Zaleha Zahari, Suriyadi Halim Omar, Jeffrey Tan Kok Wha and Dr Prasad Sandosham Abraham.

Former EC chairman Hashim Abdullah, who left office on July 1 last year, is not required to appear before the tribunal.