AG 'disappointed' with tribunal decision not to probe ex-EC members


KUALA LUMPUR: Attorney General Tommy Thomas (pic) is "disappointed" that the tribunal set up to look into alleged offences by six former Election Commission (EC) members in the 14th General Election has decided not to proceed because it would be academic and expensive.

"I think right-thinking people in Malaysia would question: Does it matter if it takes two months and is expensive to inquire the truth?" he said to reporters on Friday (May 24) after the tribunal announced its decision.

In a 3-2 vote, the tribunal decided that any proceedings held would be merely academic since the six former EC members had already resigned.

Retired Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Tan Sri Steve Shim had said that the proceedings are not in public or national interest as it would take up time, energy, and expense.

"If the majority took into account convenience, then it is very disappointing. The minority recognised the importance of the matter," said Thomas.

"Any of you who lived in Malaysia in the two to three years leading to GE14 would recognise these complaints," he added.

Thomas said there would be five separate recommendations on the matter to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and the Prime Minister.

He said the King would decide under Article 125(3) of the Federal Constitution if the proceedings go ahead or otherwise, as the tribunal panel only made recommendations.

He added that he would advise the government to release these recommendations to the public.

"I am very disappointed. I think all right-thinking Malaysians will be disappointed.

"All of us who took part in the elections will be disappointed. To say that the country can't afford time and convenience to investigate the matter is not correct.

"The country can afford it," he said.

The six former EC members concerned 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.

Bersih 2.0 chairman Thomas Fann also expressed disappointment with the decision of the tribunal.

"We had been looking forward with the tribunal going on simply because it would vindicate our assertions so far that we did not have free and fair elections despite the result," he said.

In August 2018, the electoral reform group Bersih 2.0 sent a letter to Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and urged him to investigate the commission, alleging that they had committed several offences, including malapportionment and gerrymandering.

Fann said they would explore with lawyers the next course of action.

"Certainly there is a sense that among ourselves and the public that justice wasn't served today and we have to continue to seek justice in different ways," said Fann.

Counsel K. Balaguru, who is acting for Bala Singam, said they accepted the decision of the tribunal and would wait and see what the Yang di-Pertuan Agong would do.

"Then it is up to the Attorney General as advisor to the King to advise him on what ought to be done. You see the irony in this," he said.