IPOH, 3 Feb 2009: The Election Commission (EC) needs to review its decision on the status of the Behrang and Changkat Jering state assemblypersons within 48 hours, said senior Perak state executive councillor Datuk Ngeh Koo Ham.
Ngeh, who claimed that the EC had made an “erroneous decision”, said if the EC refused to do so, it would be a dereliction of its constitutional duties.
He told a press conference here in reaction to the EC decision today that the Perak State Legislative Assembly seats for Changkat Jering (N14) and Behrang (N59) are not vacant as they are still being held by the incumbent assemblypersons.
EC chairperson, Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusuf said the EC found that there were doubts over the letters of resignation from Mohd Osman Jailu as the assemblyperson for Changkat Jering and Jamaluddin Mohd Radzi as assemblyperson for Behrang.
Yesterday, Perak State Legislative Assembly Speaker V Sivakumar handed over an official letter to the Election Commission (EC) informing that the Behrang and Changkat Jering seats were vacant following receipt of letters from the two assemblypersons which he claimed came via facsimilie on 1 Feb evening.
The two denied that they had sent the letters, and Mohd Osman, through his representative made a police report in Shah Alam denying the statement made by Sivakumar. Both of the assemblypersons also submitted letters to the EC yesterday on the matter.
The duo had earlier claimed that the letters received by Sivakumar were undated resignation letters which they signed under duress after the 12th general election in March last year.
Ngeh, who is also state DAP chairperson, said the EC’s duty was to conduct and hold elections and not to decide whether there shall or shall not be an election.
“In refusing to proceed with the by-elections, the EC is usurping the function of the Speaker and has misconstrued its role,” he said.
Ngeh said according to Article XXXVI (5) of the Perak State Constitution, any vacancies in the assembly shall be filled within 60 days by by-elections.
“Pursuant to the provisions of Article XXXV of the Perak State Constitution which states that a member of the Legislative Assembly may resign his membership by writing addressed to the Speaker,” he said.
Therefore, Ngeh, who was a lawyer before, said it was “not for the EC to second-guess the decision of the Speaker since the Speaker is legally obliged to act on the letters and not conduct any inquiry. Neither should the Commission, if it values its independence.”
He said the EC is compelled by Article 113 of the Federal Constitution to conduct elections whether at the Federal or the State level.
When asked whether the EC decision would be challenged in court, Ngeh said the next course of action would be decided after the 48 hours timeframe expired.
At another function, Ngeh asked the police to investigate the person responsible in faxing the resignation letters of the two assemblypersons to Sivakumar. — Bernama