PUTRAJAYA, 28 May 2009: The Federal Court here today declared that the Ladang state seat in Terengganu was rightly won by PAS, and dismissed an appeal by the Terengganu Barisan Nasional (BN) against the high court’s dismissal of a BN petition challenging the result of the general election last year.
Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Tan Sri Richard Malanjum, in his judgment, held that there was no major irregularity in the counting of the postal votes, saying that only three postal votes could have been erroneously counted and rejected on the grounds of missing or different serial numbers.
“However, the three postal votes could not override the 31-vote majority secured by the respondent (Datuk Tengku Hassan Tengku Omar of PAS). Therefore, the findings of the election judge are upheld,” said Justice Malanjum, who heard the appeal with Justices Datuk S Augustine Paul and Datuk Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin.
The judgment was read out by Federal Court Deputy Registrar Surita Budin.
In the general election last year, Tengku Hassan won the Ladang seat by beating Datuk Wan Hisham Wan Salleh of the BN by a 31-vote majority.
Dissatisfied with the result, Lorong Kemunting Umno branch chief Mahari Endut filed a petition for a probe and a recount of the 127 postal votes which the Election Commission (EC) had rejected on polling day on 8 March 2008.
He named the returning officer for the Kuala Terengganu parliamentary constituency, Datuk Md Razali Kassim, the EC, and Ladang state assemblyperson Tengku Hassan as the respondents.
On 22 Sept last year, the Kuala Terengganu High Court dismissed the petition after ruling that the petitioner had failed to prove his claim that the EC clerk had not done his duty in handling the postal votes.
Mahari, who was represented by Datuk Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, then appealed to the Federal Court.
Senior Federal Counsel Datuk Kamaluddin Mohd Said appeared for the returning officer and the EC while Tengku Hassan was represented by Datuk Wan Abdul Muttalib Embong.
During the hearing of the appeal on 7 Jan this year, Muhammad Shafee had submitted that the EC clerk was negligent during the issuance of the postal votes by having failed to write down the serial numbers on Envelope A and Form 2.
Due to the negligence, 127 postal votes were rejected because the serial numbers were not stated as required by Rule 7 of the Elections (Postal Voting) Regulations, he said.
Kamaluddin had argued that the case was correctly decided as there was evidence adduced during the trial that the serial numbers were written using pencil on Envelope A and Form 2. — Bernama