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Sarikei election petition dismissed (Updated 1pm)

KUCHING, 23 Jan 2009: The Federal Court today dismissed with costs an appeal by DAP candidate Dr Wong Hua Seh, challenging the Sarikei parliamentary election petition result, on grounds that it was without merit.

It agreed with the conclusion reached by the election judge that Dr Wong had failed to establish that Barisan Nasional (BN) candidate Ding Kuong Hiing, from the Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP), or his agent had committed corrupt or illegal practice during the 12th general election last year.

“Having considered the facts, we agreed (with the conclusion by Sibu High Court judge Datuk Ian Chin) that the promise to set up the Tunku Abdul Rahman (TAR) college at Bintangor can amount to a promise of development, which is a legitimate form of campaigning,” said the 14-page judgement read by Federal Court Deputy Registrar Noor Hayati Mat.

It said that Dr Wong failed to establish the offence under Section 10(c) of the Election Offences Act 1954 as alleged in his petition.

Although the promise to build the college had caused some voters to vote for Ding, it was not sufficient to constitute a “bargain” as there was no evidence of a counter promise by the voters, it said.

Court of Appeal President Tan Sri Alauddin Mohd Sheriff had sat with Chief Judge of Malaya Datuk Arifin Zakaria and Federal Court Justice Datuk Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin to hear the appeal by Dr Wong against the rejection of his petition to nullify the election result.

In the polls, Dr Wong secured 10,537 votes while Ding won the election by a narrow margin of 51 votes.

The court held that in any election the candidate was bound to make promises to bring development which could not constitute “bribery” as used in the law, otherwise the whole process of election would be meaningless.

“Similarly the promise to build the TAR college made by Ding together with local corporate figure Tan Sri Ting Pek Khiing, in our view, will benefit everyone in the constituency seeking higher education irrespective of whichever way he or she may have voted in the election,” said the judgement.

There was also no evidence to prove that an offence was committed when Ting sponsored a luncheon for some 500 people on 25 Feb 2008 as Dr Wong needed to establish beyond reasonable doubt that food was provided with the intention of influencing the voters to vote or not vote a particular candidate, it said. Bernama

On Dr Wong’s complaints about the distribution of pamphlets in Chinese promising the construction of TAR college in Bintangor by certain individuals wearing BN badges, the verdict said, the issue depended on how the court perceived the promise.

“As the election judge has ruled, and we agree with him, such a promise is not a corrupt act in the circumstance of this case; therefore, it follows that the distribution of the pamphlets is a legitimate form of campaigning,” it said.

Hence, no corrupt or illegal practice was committed by Ding or his agent, it added. — Bernama

See also:
Cash, funds and development

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