Ex-EC chief let off because he resigned before tribunal formed

Former Election Commission chief Hashim Abdullah.

KUALA LUMPUR: Former Election Commission (EC) chairman Hashim Abdullah was not hauled up for misconduct as he had resigned before the Agong’s consent to set up the tribunal into alleged misconduct by commissioners, said Attorney-General Tommy Thomas.

He said the other members of the EC resigned only after the king gave the nod to establish the tribunal last December.

They include the former deputy chairman Othman Mahmood, and commissioners Md Yusop Mansor, Abdul Aziz Khalidin, Sulaiman Narawi, Leo Chong Cheong and K Bala Singam.

“The chairman had long gone and this is why we did not make a representation to place him before a tribunal,” Thomas told the five-member tribunal chaired by Steve Shim, in his submission that the former EC members ought to be tried for misconduct.

Others in the panel are Zaleha Zahari, Suriyadi Halim Omar, Jeffrey Tan and Prasad Sandosham Abraham.

Thirteen charges have been framed against the six former commissioners in connection with their role in preparing the controversial redelineation report and the manner in which the May 9 polls were conducted.

Their lawyers say their clients should not be tried as the king had accepted their resignation.

They also say Thomas did not issue any suspension letters against the six after approval to set up the tribunal was given.

Hashim resigned on July 18.

Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad obtained the royal assent to set up the tribunal on Dec 5.

Meanwhile, Thomas, who was assisted by Mazlifah Ayob, also told the tribunal he had the right to terminate the service of lawyer M Puravalen for disobedience.

Puravalen, who was appointed conducting officer, had on Jan 28 told the tribunal the proceeding could not go on as the six were no longer in office.

Thomas sacked him two days later.

“I am the client and can decide the choice of my lawyer as no barrister has security of tenure,” he added.

Shim adjourned the tribunal’s decision on whether it has jurisdiction to try the six for misconduct.

“We will take the necessary action to deliver our finding,” he said after getting mixed response from Thomas and the lawyers whether to send a report to the king or make a public announcement.

Lawyer Shahrudin Ali and Mohd Khairul Azam Abdul Aziz represented Othman, Yusop, Aziz and Sulaiman.

K Kumaraendran and K Kumaraguru appeared for Bala Singam, while R Kengadharan appeared for Leo.