SHAH ALAM: The High Court here declared the Malaysian Trades Union Congress’ (MTUC) triennial delegates’ conference null and void today for non-compliance with the provisions of its constitution.
Judicial commissioner Choong Yeow Choy ruled that all decisions made at the conference on July 2 and 3 last year were null and void.
This includes the election of MTUC’s principal office-bearers.
Last year, a group of major affiliates of MTUC, led by former president Halim Mansor, filed two suits against the then newly elected principal officer-bearers, claiming that they had violated the organisation’s constitution in calling for the conference.
The 16 unions sought a declaration that the election was invalid, and an order to stop the 19 new office-bearers for the 2023-2025 term from discussing or changing policy matters pending the disposal of the applications.
The plaintiffs also asked the court to decide whether the matters complained of fall exclusively under the power and purview of the Registrar of Societies (RoS) for determination.
Citing precedents, Choong said while there is no denying that the RoS shall have and may exercise all such powers conferred by the Societies Act 1966, save for situations where the courts have been expressly excluded from exercising their jurisdiction, the exercise of such powers is subject to the superlative authority of the court.
“Here, the dispute in question does not fall squarely within the condition as envisaged in Section 16(1) of the Societies Act 1966. The RoS has not made a determination of the dispute at hand.
“As such, any argument to suggest that a decision by this court on the present dispute would undermine or substitute a decision made by the RoS is flawed,” he said in the written judgment sighted by FMT.
Therefore, he said the court’s intervention in the present proceedings did not amount to “stepping into the shoes” and usurping the powers of the RoS.
Choong said although Parliament did not intend for the courts to be inundated with such disputes between members of societies, for matters such as the manner in which the conference was conducted, strict adherence to the constitutional provisions of MTUC was demanded.
He said as the key business of the conference was the election of the principal office-bearers, any violation of the constitutional provisions relating to these matters would have a serious implication on the integrity of the election process itself.
He agreed with the plaintiffs that the failure to comply with the minimum period of a seven-week notice for members to submit their list of delegates and nominations for election of principal officers had affected the core business of the conference.
“When the nomination papers and list of delegates submitted by one of the plaintiffs (Halim) were rejected, it had, to borrow a previous decision, affected the integrity of the MTUC election.
“While it is true that the TDC (triennial delegates’ conference) is the supreme authority of MTUC, the fact that some of the delegates were wrongfully barred from attending the meeting meant those present did not represent the entire body and thus cannot be regarded as valid,” he said.
Choong said the court viewed that the constitutional provisions must be safeguarded, lest the good name and the role that an important body such as MTUC plays in the labour movement landscape were tainted and compromised.
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