PN, BN gearing up for potential Kemaman by-election
PETALING JAYA: Perikatan Nasional and its rivals are prepared to go head-to-head again if polls are declared in the Kemaman parliamentary seat in Terengganu following a court decision to nullify the coalition’s victory in the 15th General Election.
However, a Perikatan official said the coalition could still appeal against the Election Court’s decision yesterday, which found that elements of corruption had occurred with the knowledge of the Perikatan candidate during the campaign for the seat.
In GE15, Perikatan’s Che Alias Hamid had won the Kemaman seat by a 27,179-vote majority.
Terengganu Bersatu chief Datuk Razali Idris said the coalition’s machinery has always been prepared for a possible by-election.
“We’re ready to face the by-election if it’s needed. Whether an appeal will be filed, we leave it to the leadership,” he said when contacted.
If a by-election is eventually called, Razali said that Perikatan is confident in retaining the seat just like it did in the Kuala Terengganu parliamentary seat by-election in August.
Perikatan’s GE15 victory in Kuala Terengganu was also nullified by the Election Court and a by-election was held on Aug 12, where the coalition won the seat again.
“In GE15, we won (Kemaman) with a very big majority and I believe we can do the same this time around if there’s a by-election,” said Razali, who is Bersatu national information chief, referring to the 27,000-vote winning majority Perikatan garnered in GE15.
“Even when we had the Kuala Terengganu by-election, we secured the seat with an even larger majority,” Razali said.
Perikatan retained Kuala Terengganu on Aug 12 by a 47,266-vote majority, an increase over the 40,907 victory margin it received in GE15.
Terengganu Umno deputy chief Datuk Nik Dir Nik Wan Ku said the party has been gearing up to face off its rival in a possible by-election ever since the petition was filed.
“As a political party, we’re always prepared for any possibility,” he said.
He added that the party leadership will also discuss on possible election candidates after Pahang’s Pelangai state by-election.
“We have yet to decide whether we will send our own candidate (from Umno) or from Pakatan Harapan. We need to focus on Pelangai first, maybe after that is settled, we will start discussing the candidate for Kemaman,” he told The Star.
In his judgment, Kuala Terengganu Election Court judge Justice Anselm Charles Fernandis allowed the petition filed by Wan Mohamad Hisham Wan Abdul Jalil.
According to Bernama, the judge said the petitioner, Wan Mohamad Hisham, had succeeded in proving that corruption had taken place.
The court also ordered the respondent, Che Alias of Perikatan, to pay RM30,000 to the petitioner.
“I find corruption was committed with the knowledge of the respondent. I declare the general election result for Kemaman which was held on 19th November (last year) is void... The money given was to induce votes.
“(If it was a state government’s initiative) I considered that after the election it could still happen, but it happened a few days before the general election. All politicians should know the effect,” said Justice Anselm.
“No doubt the state government still existed during that time (because the GE and state election were held separately) but that did not mean that the kind of programmes (fund distribution) should be held so close to the GE date,” he said.
Justice Anselm said such programmes should be held after or before the campaign period to avoid elements of inducement.
The official programme said to be organised by the Terengganu government included the Bantuan i-Belia and i-Siswa and contributions for the disabled and asnaf (tithe recipients).
The petitioner was represented by lawyers Datuk Hafarizam Harun, Amin Othman, and Norhazira Abu Haiyan, while Che Alias was represented by lawyers Saifuddin Othman and Wan Rohimi Wan Daud.
Hafarizam said after the proceedings that the judge had called the lead counsel of both parties into his chambers and informed them that if there is no appeal, he would notify the Election Commission of today’s decision on Oct 3.
Prior to this, the Election Court dismissed a petition filed by Barisan Nasional against Che Alias and retained the PAS representative’s GE15 victory.