PETALING JAYA: The resignation of the six Election Commission (EC) members was a deliberate move to frustrate a tribunal set up to investigate their misconduct while in office, says Attorney General Tommy Thomas.
"The resignations of the EC members were clearly a deliberate move to frustrate investigations of the tribunal, and to avoid the ignominy of being removed, with all its attendant consequences.
"The resignations were tendered immediately after it was reported that the government had begun the process of establishing such a tribunal, and yet were 'post-dated' unilaterally by the EC members to take effect on Jan 1, 2019," said Thomas.
In a media statement on Wednesday (Jan 30), Thomas said he felt the need to clarify the position taken by the Attorney General's Chambers that the proceedings in the tribunal on the EC commissioners were not academic.
He said the main reason for setting up the tribunal was to find out if the six committed misconduct before and during the GE14, and if they did, to recommend to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong the appropriate action to be taken against them.
"The tribunal must first carry out an investigation into their conduct as stated in the 13 charges against them to determine the facts as to the issue of misconduct.
"These are very serious charges which, if established, will demonstrate personal culpability on the part of the EC members for the way in which GE14 was organised.
"The relevant period of time that the tribunal is tasked to investigate is before and on polling day (May 9, 2018). The members were then in office, and it is their conduct then that is being investigated.
The acts or omissions of EC members cannot be immune from scrutiny and investigation of the tribunal simply because they have resigned," said Thomas.
The six ex-EC members involved are Tan Sri Othman Mahmood, Datuk Md Yusop Mansor, Datuk Abdul Aziz Khalidin, Datuk Sulaiman Narawi, Datuk K. Bala Singam Karupiah and Datuk Leo Chong Cheong.
Thomas further pointed out that tribunal proceedings could affect any benefits they were due to receive.
"The outcome of the tribunal proceedings can potentially have direct financial implications on the (former) EC members' entitlements to pension and other benefits, which will accrue to them on resignation, but may not be payable if they are removed.
"Ultimately, the tribunal is free to decide on the preliminary issue as it wishes, and to make recommendations to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong," said Thomas.
On Monday, the tribunal was told that findings of the tribunal would only be academic as the persons in question have quit.
The five-man bench presiding over the tribunal is chaired by retired Federal Court judge Tan Sri Steve Shim.