Tribunal to rule if it can try ex-EC members for misconduct

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

PETALING JAYA: A five-member tribunal will rule on May 24 whether it has the jurisdiction to try six former Election Commission (EC) members for alleged misconduct in organising the 14th general election.

Lawyer R Kengadharan, who is appearing for ex-EC member Leo Chong Cheong, said he received a letter from the tribunal secretariat on Friday.

“We will know whether the proceeding to try the former EC members will go on, or if it has become academic,” he told FMT.

On April 1, tribunal chairman Steve Shim said the panel would take the necessary steps to deliver its findings after getting a mixed response from Attorney-General Tommy Thomas and lawyers on whether to send its report to the king or make a public announcement.

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

The EC had come under fire from Pakatan Harapan and NGOs which accused it of acting in favour of Barisan Nasional in the May 9 polls last year.

Thirteen charges were framed against Leo, former deputy chairman Othman Mahmood, and ex-members Md Yusop Mansor, Abdul Aziz Khalidin, Sulaiman Narawi and K Bala Singam in connection with their role in preparing the controversial redelineation report and the manner in which the polls were conducted.

Thomas said the six should be tried for misconduct as they resigned only after the king approved the establishment of the tribunal in December last year.

He also said the proceeding was not academic as the tribunal could recommend to the king that their pension from serving in the EC be taken away.

However, their lawyers said they should not be tried as the king had approved their applications to shorten their terms.

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

The hearing became mired in controversy after Thomas terminated the services of lawyer M Puravalen for disobedience.

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

Thomas sacked him two days later.

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