PETALING JAYA, 2 Feb 2009: It will be hard for the two former Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) assemblypersons in Perak to challenge their own pre-signed, undated resignation letters, a constitutional lawyer said today.
Jamaluddin Mat Radzi, the assemblyperson for Behrang, and Mohd Osman Mohd Jailu, the assemblyperson for Changkat Jering, can deny having sent the letters all they want, but the law’s view is that they have given prior consent to the terms contained in the letter, senior lawyer Tommy Thomas told The Nut Graph.
“The law begins from the premise that as an adult, once you sign a document, even if it is undated, and you leave it in another person’s care, you have signified your consent. The law assumes you had the right to say no when asked to sign it,” Thomas said in a phone interview today.
“Pre-signed resignation letters are a common practice by political parties all over the world and have been used many times before. Even if the [assemblypersons] now deny quitting, the fact is they signed that letter.
Tommy Thomas“If they try to challenge it, the law will say, who asked you to sign it in the first place? It will also be difficult for politicians to prove that they signed it under duress,” Thomas said.
Thomas was asked to comment on the legality of the pre-signed resignation letters sent to the Perak state assembly speaker V Sivakumar yesterday.
Later the same day, Jamaluddin and Mohd Osman denied having sent the letters to Sivakumar, adding that they were not vacating their seats. Both are holding press conferences today to state their position.
Jamaluddin was the state executive councillor for the development, cooperatives, agriculture and trade committee. Mohd Osman was in charge of the tourism, human development and non-governmental organisations committee.
Both men were charged on 25 Aug 2008 for accepting bribes in relation to developing a piece of land in Seri Iskandar.
Their letters were faxed to Sivakumar after they were incommunicado for five days. PKR and state government officials said attempts to contact the duo were futile.
PKR “knew” of defection
PKR deputy president Dr Syed Husin Ali confirmed that all party representatives had signed such letters before the March 2008 general election.
“The letters state that they would resign and vacate their seat if they leave the party. But I don’t know who sent the letters to the Perak speaker. Jamaluddin’s and Mohd Osman’s letters are kept with the state party leadership,” Syed Husin said in a phone interview.
He said the PKR leadership “knew” that the two men had left the party because they did not respond to attempts to reach them, and based on statements by the Umno leadership that there were Pakatan Rakyat representatives ready to cross over.
“We did try to get their side of the story. I rang them up personally, so did (Datuk Seri) Anwar Ibrahim, so did the Perak Menteri Besar and the state party chief, but they didn’t respond. Then, we knew things were going that way (that they were leaving) because of the things Umno was saying.
“If they want to fight it out in court, they can. We are ready to face a by-election,” Syed Husin said.
He also alleged that Umno had “coerced” Jamaluddin and Mohd Osman to leave PKR by promising that their corruption charges would be dropped.