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Court upholds DAP’s Chong as Bandar Kuching MP

KUCHING, 10 March 2009: The Federal Court today upheld the election of DAP vice-chairperson Chong Chieng Jen as the Bandar Kuching Member of Parliament (MP) after dismissing with costs an appeal by voter Kho Whai Phiaw challenging an
earlier election petition ruling.

It held that the election judge, Justice Datuk Clement Allan Skinner, was right to dismiss Kho’s election petition on 24 Sept 2008 to nullify Chong’s election to the Bandar Kuching seat.

In the 8 March election last year, Chong garnered 22,901 votes to defeat Barisan Nasional (BN) candidate Sim Yaw Yen of the Sarawak United Peoples Party with a 9,952-vote majority.

The court also agreed with all the findings of the election court, and that Kho had failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Chong had committed the five offences — four relating to alleged use of undue influence, and one relating to alleged bribery of voters — to procure his victory in the election.

The appeal was heard before a three-member panel comprising Federal Court judge Tan Sri Alauddin Mohd Sheriff, Chief Judge of Malaya Datuk Arifin Zakaria, and Court of Appeal judge Datuk Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin.

In his election petition, Kho sought to nullify the election result on grounds that Chong had interfered or attempted to interfere with the free exercise of the electoral rights of the voters, contravening Section 9(1) of the Election Offences Act.

However, the election court ruled that Kho had failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Chong had made false statements affecting the personal conduct or character of Sim as a candidate.

Kho had also alleged that the pamphlet, Say Enough to SUPP, Say No to CM, contained false imputations or misrepresentations deliberately intended to mislead voters in the Bandar Kuching constituency.

The reliability of some of the evidence provided by witnesses was also questioned. This included Merdict Jukai Empaka, a voter who had admitted that he “came to court to lie” by saying he refrained from voting because he was induced or influenced by what was stated in the Sarawak DAP manifesto.

On the bribery charge, the judge had said it could not be sustained as the 3,000 limited copies of the Sarawak DAP manifesto, launched by Sarawak DAP chairperson Wong Ho Leng and received by the Kuching DAP on 4 March, were different from the national manifesto. — Bernama

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