The 14th General Election. At least six Pakatan Harapan candidates were disqualified even before they could begin their 14th general election battle. The most high-profile disqualification was PKR vice-president Tian Chua in Batu, who was the parliamentary constituency’s incumbent for 10 years. He was disqualified due to a RM2,000 fine imposed on him last month although a similar fine in 2010 did not get him disqualified from contesting in the last general election. In the Johor state seat of Bukit Pasir, Bersatu’s candidate Pizi Jihat’s nomination papers were rejected by the returning officer. He was disqualified on the grounds of being bankrupt.
Bersatu president Muhyiddin Yassin said Pizi had already settled his bankruptcy prior to being nominated, and had brought proof with him today. “Among the documents he handed to the returning officer was a search on the Insolvency Department’s website to show that he is not bankrupt. “But (the returning officer) said the latest cheque showed he was bankrupt, which is why I’m puzzled as to which is true,” Muhyiddin told reporters. He said the party will consult with their lawyers on the next step. The same fate befell Bersatu’s Yaakob Osman for the Penang state seat of Penaga. However, Yaakob refuted this, claiming that he had already ran a check which did not show he is a bankrupt. “The election commission has said that there is data that I am bankrupt. We did a cheque last week and yesterday as well. “There were no issues and I have not been summoned by anyone or declared bankrupt. The election commission has decided, nothing can be done,” he was quoted as saying by The Star Online. Barisan Nasional wins Rantau unopposed.
In Kelantan, PKR candidates in both the state seats of Tawang and Kuala Balah were disqualified. PKR’s Mohd Azihan Che Seman was disqualified in Tawang on grounds that his identity card address was not in Kelantan, which is a prerequisite to contest in the state seat there. PKR’s Mohd Hafidz Rizal Amran was disqualified in Kuala Balah on grounds of being bankrupt. He declined to comment when met. In the state seat of Rantau, PKR’s Dr S Streram was denied entry into the nomination centre on grounds that he did not bring his Election Commission (EC) pass and was only let into the nomination centre three minutes after the deadline. This led to the EC to declare the incumbent, caretaker Negeri Sembilan menteri besar Mohamad Hasan the winner of the seat unopposed. Meanwhile, PKR vice-president Rafizi Ramli, in a statement, accused the returning officer handling the state seat of Rantau of deliberately delaying the party’s candidate Streram. “I was informed by Harapan representatives in the hall that the Negeri Sembilan Election Commission director had instructed the returning officer to allow Streram in to submit his nomination paper as early as 9.30am.
“However, the returning officer kept delaying before letting him at 10.03am and then rejected the nomination,” he alleged. It is noteworthy that Parti Rakyat Malaysia (PRM) Jenice Lee, who was to submit her nomination papers for the state seat of Teratai and parliamentary seat of Pandan, also faced a similar issue but was let in within minutes. She managed to field her candidacy for both seats. Meanwhile, aside Harapan, a PAS candidate also ran out of luck. According to Utusan Malaysia, PAS Subang Jaya candidate Mohamad Badri Abdul Rahman was also disqualified on grounds of being bankrupt.
Returning officer Noraini Roslan reportedly announced that the Subang Jaya seat would see a three-cornered fight between Barisan Nasional’s Chong Ah Wat, PKR’s Michelle Ng and Independent candidate Toh Sin Wah.
General Election 14. The rejection of the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) is akin to saying the Election Commission was not interested in conducting a free and fair election, says DAP’s Lim Lip Eng. In a statement today, Lim, the Federal Territories DAP secretary, said that the electoral body lost a golden opportunity to show it is indeed an independent body. “The idea of having independent bodies such as Suhkam monitoring the electoral process is to assist EC in doing a good job; therefore, by rejecting Suhakam, the EC has lost a golden opportunity to show that it is truly non-partisan.
“This has raised a lot of doubts, especially after the EC announced that it would invite international election watchdogs (and) from a list of seven countries, six of which performed worse than Malaysia in the democracy index,” Lim added. Lim is the current caretaker Segambut incumbent MP, but will be fielded in Kepong in the coming general election. “I, therefore, call upon the EC chairperson, Mohd Hashim Abdullah to look at the list of countries once again to see where these countries occupy in The Economist’s Democracy Index 2017 and Freedom House’s Freedom in the World 2018,” he added. Yesterday, Suhakam revealed it had failed in its bid to be accredited as an election observer. Even so, later vowed that it will continue to monitor the election, despite this setback. Bersih to EC: What are you afraid of? On April 10, the EC announced that representatives of electoral management bodies from at least seven countries – Indonesia, Thailand, Maldives, Timor Leste, Cambodia, Kyrgyzstan and Azerbaijan – will observe the election.
The EC also invited little known Malaysian Commonwealth Studies Centre (MCSC) to monitor the polls, which will be held on May 9. However, the EC has yet to state the terms of reference for these observers, nor has it identified any of them, despite nomination day being just two days away. Bersih, too, has expressed displeasure at this turn of events, demanding the EC state its reason for not including Suhakam as an election observer. Bersih acting chairperson Shahrul Aman Mohd Saari was quoted by Free Malaysia Today (FMT) as questioning EC’s “strange” decision to disallow the country’s own national body on human rights and which was established by Parliament while inviting international observers. There was no valid reason for the Suhakam not to participate in the polling process, he reportedly said. “Are they afraid that we may find any wrongdoings in the election?” he asked. Meanwhile, in a separate statement, Harapan’s candidate for Pendang Wan Saiful Wan Jan described the incident as a “grave injustice” to Malaysians.
“I fully applauded Suhakam chairperson Razali Ismail’s decision to press ahead as an independent observer in spite of EC’s objection,” he said in the statement. “Suhakam is an independent body established by Parliament under the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia Act 1999. Barring them from serving the rakyat without even giving a proper reason shows that the EC is no longer neutral. “Why now of all times? Is it because Suhakam announced that they would monitor hot seats?” he questioned. He claimed this, together with previous actions taken by the electoral body – such as its redelineation exercise, its provisional dissolution of Harapan component party Bersatu, and introduction of additional requirements governing use of political leaders’ imagery on campaigning materials – made it appear the EC was acting in favour of Umno. “It is clear, that as elections draw close, the EC is making rulings in favour of Umno at the expense of Harapan”, added Wan Saiful. “Barring Suhakam from serving is the last straw. Let’s not forget that in the previous general election, when names were missing from the electoral roll people complained directly to Suhakam.
“EC Chairperson should be ashamed of himself. As a Muslim and as a Malaysian you need to put the rakyat first, above all else,” he said.