KUALA LUMPUR: The tribunal to hear allegations of misconduct against six former Election Commission (EC) members has decided not to proceed with the hearing against them, saying the case is now academic.
Panel chairman Steve Shim, in delivering the majority decision, said it would be an exercise in futility to try former EC deputy chairman Othman Mahmood and fellow ex-commissioners Md Yusop Mansor, Abdul Aziz Khalidin, Sulaiman Narawi, Bala Singam Karupiah and Leo Chong Cheong.
“Issues that have been rendered academic must not be heard unless there is a good reason for this,” he said in the majority decision, which was also agreed to by panel members Zaleha Zahari and Suriyadi Halim Omar.
Zaleha said it was not in the public interest to investigate the former commissioners.
But two other panel members Jeffrey Tan and Prasad Sandosham Abrahim said the hearing against the six men should proceed as it has to do with Malaysia’s democratic process.
Both said their voluntary resignation from the EC does not shelter them from investigations of misconduct while in public office.
Tan also disagreed that the case is academic, saying the allegations are about misconduct of public officers.
Prasad meanwhile said not proceeding with the tribunal may not bode well with the public.
It is understood that 13 charges have been framed against the six former EC members in connection with their role in preparing the controversial redelineation report and the manner in which the May 9 polls were conducted.
At the start of the tribunal in January, then-conducting officer and lawyer M Puravalen told the panel that the case was academic as the six men were no longer in office.
Puravalen was later sacked by Attorney-General Tommy Thomas for not following instructions. Thomas then took over as the tribunal’s conducting officer.
Thomas maintained that the case was not academic as the tribunal could recommend to the Agong that their pensions be withheld.
Their lawyers meanwhile argued that the six should not be tried because the Agong had already approved their resignation from the EC.