Court finds vote-buying in Cameron Highlands, nullifies election of MIC man

Incumbent Sivarraajh can file an appeal against the Election Court’s decision. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
Incumbent Sivarraajh can file an appeal against the Election Court’s decision. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 30 — An Election Court today ruled that MIC vice-president Datuk C. Sivarraajh’s victory in the Cameron Highlands parliamentary seat in the 14th general election (GE14) is null and void after it was proven that the latter’s election campaign had involved vote-buying.

Justice Datuk Azizah Nawawi, who presided over the case, ruled that DAP’s Cameron Highlands candidate M. Manogaran had managed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that voters were paid during the election campaign, news portal Free Malaysia Today reported.

On June 4, Manogaran had filed an election petition to challenge Sivarraajh’s May 9 win due to the alleged buying of votes by the latter.

Manogaran had in his election petition reportedly claimed that Sivarraajh and the current Pahang Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Wan Rosdy Wan Ismail had given money to several Orang Asli village heads to be distributed to Orang Asli voters at sums ranging from RM30 to RM1,000 each.

According to national news agency Bernama, the judge today said Manogaran had proven that there was bribery with money either given directly by Sivarraajh or indirectly through Umno’s Jelai assemblyman Wan Rosdy or an Orang Asli who was Wan Rosdy’s agent, with the aim of inducing Orang Asli voters to vote for Barisan Nasional.

The judge reportedly did not name the person who had actually given the money due to inconsistencies in evidence by witnesses, but said there was no dispute that the money was given to the Orang Asli.

Bernama reported the judge as concluding today that a “corrupt practice” had been committed within Sivarraajh’s knowledge during the elections, with the judge to also notify the Election Commission of the election petition’s outcome today.

DAP vice-chairman and minister M. Kulasegaran has taken to Facebook to weigh in on the court’s decision, saying: “Another well-deserved dose of justice served today.”

Kulasegaran also highlighted the possibility of a by-election being held for the Cameron Highlands seat.

“Pending appeal, there will be a by-election for Cameron Highlands as High Court ruled on election petition in favour of Pakatan Harapan’s M. Manogaran,” Kulasegaran wrote on his official Facebook account.

Sivarraajh can, however, file an appeal against the Election Court’s decision.

Following the election court’s decision today, Sivarraajh was reported saying that he intends to file an appeal, also reiterating his previous denial of having engaged in vote-buying.

On May 9, Sivarraajh won with a relatively slim majority of 597 votes with his 10,307 vote-haul in a five-cornered race, with Manogaran then being the candidate with the second highest vote-haul at 9,710 votes.