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Federal Court postpones decision on Pensiangan poll

KOTA KINABALU, 12 Feb 2009: Those expecting to find out tomorrow whether there will be a by-election in Pensiangan, Sabah, will have to keep waiting for now.

The Federal Court here today decided to reserve decision on an appeal by Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah (PBRS) president Tan Sri Joseph Kurup to quash the nullification of his election to the Pensiangan parliamentary seat in the March 2008 general election.

Bernama reported that Appeal Court president Tan Sri Alauddin Mohd Sheriff, who sat with Chief Justice of Malaya Datuk Arifin Zakaria and Federal Court judge Datuk Nik Hashim Abd Rahman, said the judgment would be delivered at a date to be fixed.

The country’s highest court was initially scheduled to make a ruling tomorrow.

According to the Bernama report, Kurup, represented by leading counsel, Mariati Robert, wanted the court to set aside the Election Court’s decision declaring the Pensiangan election result null and void.

Kurup won the seat unopposed on nomination day in the 12th general election, after the returning officer rejected the nomination papers of Danny Anthony Andipai of Parti Keadilan Rakyat and another candidate.

He was subsequently appointed Deputy Rural and Regional Development Minister.

Andipai then petitioned to the Election Court to nullify the election result, naming Kurup and the returning officer, Bubudan OT Majalu, as respondents.

Election Court judge David Wong Tak Wah, in allowing the petition on 8 Sept 2008, ruled that the wrongful rejection of the nomination papers had breached Andipai’s constitutional right to take part in the election and the written law relating to the conduct of the election.

In his 36-page judgment, Wong said the Sabah Election Commission deputy director’s decision to accept Andipai’s nomination papers was final, and could not be overruled by the returning officer, under the pretext that there was an objection during the objection period.

The deputy director was exercising the power provided for by law in making the decision, and the returning officer’s decision to uphold the objection was a wrong decision, he ruled.

Senior federal counsel Firoz Hussein Ahmad Jamaluddin, in his submission today, said the Election Court judge had failed to observe that Andipai did not comply with election law when arguing on Section 32B of the Election Offences Act.

He said it was stipulated that nomination papers should be submitted between 9am and 10am but Andipai submitted his papers at 10.25am, which was beyond the stipulated time.

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