Ending Tribunal On Ex Ec Members Will Send Wrong Message




Former Bersih chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah said the disbandment of the tribunal looking into the alleged misconduct of six former Election Commission (EC) members will send the wrong message to the people
"By disbanding the tribunal, it sends the message that it is okay to violate election laws and the constitution as long as you retire or resign before being brought to trial
"It means that Election Commission staff can enjoy immunity for offences committed by them," she said in a statement to Malaysiakini today
The Petaling Jaya MP said the decision to end the tribunal proceedings was a disappointing one as the core issue was not whether the commissioners had resigned voluntarily or not
The tribunal, she said, needed to look at the bigger picture as to whether the former commissioners had contravened the constitution and laws of the country in carrying out their duties
The disbandment of the tribunal will leave this question unresolved, she added
"Election commissioners, past or present, must be held to a higher standard when they carry out important work, especially for national elections which touches the rights of every citizen," she said
Another former Bersih chairperson, Ambiga Sreenevasan, said ending the tribunal's proceedings was a "missed opportunity"
"It is a missed opportunity to hold commissioners accountable for their actions. It allows for public officials to escape scrutiny by just resigning. It is a shame," she told Malaysiakini
Similarly, the steering committee of elections watchdog NGO Bersih also said it was disappointed with the tribunal's decision to end its proceedings
This decision, it said, will set a precedent that public officials entrusted to safeguard public interests and uphold the Federal Constitution can escape accountability and justice simply by resigning from their posts before action can be taken
"If the tribunal had decided to proceed, the panel and the public would have had the opportunity to hear evidence of how these EC members had allegedly committed gross electoral misconduct and violations of the Federal Constitution that denied Malaysians a free and fair election during GE14
"Instead, the six former commissioners have not only escaped justice but will continue to enjoy the financial benefits of their early retirement," it said
Ambiga SreenevasanEarlier today, the panel members of the tribunal ended their proceedings by a 3-2 decision, declaring that continuing would be "an exercise in futility"
Tribunal chairperson retired Federal Court judge Steve Shim Lip Kiong described the proceedings as such, questioning whether it was in "the public and national interest to spend so much time, energy and expense merely to seek the removal of the six officers when they have already removed themselves, whether voluntary or otherwise, from the EC".Bersih said it disagreed with this remark, saying when it came to possible gross electoral fraud, it was a matter of both public and national interest and the truth could not be put aside for expediency
"Bersih urges the government to amend Article 114 to clearly state that resignation from a position does not protect a person from any future investigation or consequences of misconduct while in office
"We will also seek legal opinions on pursuing other avenues to hold accountable all previous EC members, including former chairperson Hashim Abdullah, for their alleged misconduct," it said
It added that regardless, it thanked the prime minister, the attorney-general and lawyers for taking up this matter following the list of complaints submitted by Bersih back in August 2018. - Mkini

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