Eleventh hour PPBM provisional suspension is contempt of court, says lawyer

Gobind Singh Deo representing Pakatan Harapan asked the court to defer proceedings to another date after PPBM was deregistered by the Registrar of Society hours before the hearing at the High Court today. — Picture by Azneal Ishak
Gobind Singh Deo representing Pakatan Harapan asked the court to defer proceedings to another date after PPBM was deregistered by the Registrar of Society hours before the hearing at the High Court today. — Picture by Azneal Ishak

KUALA LUMPUR, April 5 — Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia’s (PPBM) temporary suspension a mere two hours before a court hearing on a related matter is tantamount to contempt of court, a lawyer claimed today.

Lawyer Gobind Singh Deo said the Registrar of Societies (RoS) is well aware of today’s proceedings, specifically Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) bid to register itself as an official coalition.

“The case was set for substantive hearing and there was a process of affidavit submission to the court.

“But before the court could make a decision on the matter today, a decision was made by RoS that directly impacted the case,” he told reporters outside the court here.

Gobind said the submission of a letter by RoS instructing the temporary suspension meant that PPBM, as a component party, cannot be considered a PH party in the ongoing case.

“This is a serious matter. If we know there is a proceeding in court, we need to give the court due process and respect the law,” he said.

Lawyer Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla, who represented PPBM, said RoS had on February 28 issued a notice to the party under Section 14(2) to furnish minutes of its branch, divisional and central leadership meetings, as well as its statements of accounts that was only received on March 7.

“The 30-day notice period was supposed to expire on April 7.

“However, PPBM had, on March 29, submitted the relevant documents and complied with the request made by RoS,” he said.

Mohamed Haniff said RoS had filed an affidavit on March 30 but failed to inform PPBM whether a provisional suspension would be made in relation to whether RoS was satisfied with the documents submitted.

He said PPBM believes the notice was defective, premature and illegal because PPBM have complied fully with the demands of RoS.

“This is very saddening for a public official, who has full knowledge of documents received by her department, to have failed to inform the court through an affidavit of the decision that was made by RoS today,” he said.

Gobind then requested the court defer the hearing to a later date to allow the applicants to submit a new affidavit, including the suspension letter for the court to review.

He said the deferment would allowed the court to decide whether the letter has interfered with the proceeding and whether such actions amounted to contempt of court.

High Court judge Datuk Hajjah Azizah Nawawi granted the request and fixed April 11 for the hearing.

Earlier today, the party was dissolved under Section 14 (5) of the Societies Act 1966 for failing to submit information and documents pertaining to the minutes of branch meetings, divisions and centres, as well as party financial statements to RoS.

RoS director-general Surayati Ibrahim had said the party was not allowed to use its logo or conduct any party activity during its disbandment with immediate effect.