EC chairman defends decision not to appeal Kimanis election petition

Datuk Azhar Harun said that it was not about whether he was defending the commission but that the judge had not made any reference to wrongdoing by the Election Commission. ― Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Datuk Azhar Harun said that it was not about whether he was defending the commission but that the judge had not made any reference to wrongdoing by the Election Commission. ― Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

KOTA KINABALU, Sept 12 ― Election Commission (EC) chairman Datuk Azhar Harun today defended his decision not to appeal the court's decision to declare the Kimanis parliamentary seat election results null and void after it found incidence of non-compliance in the casting of ballots.

Azhar said that it was not about whether he was defending the commission but that the judge had not made any reference to wrongdoing by the EC.

“The decision of the election court did not identify anybody at all. The election court just said because of the discrepancy of the numbers in form 14 and form 13, it concluded additional ballot papers were added.

“It did not say who added it. It did not say my staff. It doesn’t say whoever, it just made a conclusion,” said Azhar, adding that the EC will be part of the ongoing appeal case filed by Datuk Anifah Aman who stands to lose his Kimanis seat.

Lawyer for Anifah said that it was “extraordinary” that the EC did not stand by its own officers and that the findings exposed  the Returning Officer and other election officers  to potential criminal liability under the Election Offences Act.

Azhar said it was wrong to say he did not stand up for his staff, as he was still defending his former returning officer in the Rantau parliamentary seat who was held in contempt of court.

“Look at my record, if there was a decision that implicated my staff, of course I won’t take it lying down.” he said.

On August 16, the election court here declared the Kimanis poll results null and void after it found misconduct in the case of more than 300 votes, leading to a discrepancy in the results.

Anifah won by a slim 156 majority. His lawyers filed an appeal on August 27 and are currently waiting for a case management date.

“It has to be settled within six months from the date of appeal. If the court upheld the decision of the election court than we will call for a by election,” he said.

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