By-election for Rantau, Mohamad and EC’s appeals dismissed

A by-election will be held for the Rantau state seat in Negri Sembilan after the Federal Court here upheld an Election Court’s ruling to nullify the result of Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan winning the seat unopposed in the last general election.

Chief Justice Tan Sri Richard Malanjum, who chaired a five-man bench, made the ruling after dismissing  the appeals brought by Mohamad and the Election Commission (EC) against the Election Court’s ruling on Nov 16, 2018. 

Justice Malanjum held  that PKR candidate Dr S. Streram had locus standi (legal right) to file an election petition. 

“We are unanimous. We dismiss the appeals with costs ” he said, adding that the written judgment would be delivered later.

In a packed courtroom, Justice Malanjum said the panel was of the view that an election must be held.

Justice Malanjum also ordered Mohamad and the EC to pay RM10,000 in costs each to Dr Streram.

The other four judges on the panel were Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Datuk David Wong Dak Wah, and Federal Court Judges Datuk Alizatul Khair Osman Khairuddin, Datuk Rohana Yusuf and Datuk Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat . 

On Nov 16, Election Court judge Datuk Azimah Omar allowed an election petition filed by Dr Streram who was denied entry to submit his nomination form due to the absence of the tag or pass, thus seeking a by-election for the seat on grounds that Mohamad’s election was not valid.

He had named Mohamad, the former Negri Sembilan Menteri Besar, as the first respondent; Rembau parliamentary constituency returning officer Amino Agus Suyub as the second respondent and the Election Commission (EC) as the third respondent.

In his petition filed on May 23, 2018 he also claimed that the EC had failed to inform him when collecting the nomination form and making the deposit payment that he needed a name tag or pass to enter the nomination centre on nomination day.

Dr Streram was represented by a group of lawyers led by Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla while Mohamad was represented by  a team of lawyers led by Datuk Mohd Hafarizam Harun.

Both Dr Streram and Mohamad were present in court today. 

In an immediate reaction, Dr Streram told reporters that he was very happy with today’s ruling and would contest in the by-election.

“This result has lifted our spirits and put a full stop to the Rantau seat issue,” he said. 

Meanwhile, Mohamad who is Umno deputy president, said he respected the verdict and had already made preparations for a by-election.

“I accept the verdict with an open heart. The by-election should be held soon, I am ready and waiting for the EC to announce when the by-election will be called,” he said.

Azimah, in her judgment, held that “no election rule states that an electoral candidate, proposer and seconder should have a tag or pass to submit the nomination form.”

She therefore allowed the petition filed by Dr Streram and ruled that Mohamad was not duly elected as Rantau assemblyman and that the by-election result was null and void.

At the outset, Mohd Hafarizam submitted that  his client should not be blamed due to the absence of the tag or pass on Dr Streram.

“Our client was not involved and he should not be punished,” he said.

Mohamed Haniff countered that his client had paid his election deposit and arrived at the nomination centre with his proposer and seconder.

He said the EC’s refusal  to allow  Dr Streram to enter the centre without a pass contravened his constitutional rights.