Malaysiakini: 8 Sept 2008
The Pensiangan parliamentary seat, won by Barisan Nasional’s Joseph Kurup on March 8 general election, has been declared vacant by the Kota Kinabalu Election Court today.
The decision by High Court judge Justice David Wong Dak Wah could pave way for a by-election for this constituency which was won uncontested by Kurup.
However recent amendments to the election laws allow Kurup to appeal the decision at the Federal Court.
The petition was filed by PKR’s Danny Anthony Andipai, who was also a candidate for the seat.
He had named Kurup, returning officer Bubudan OT Majalu and the Election Commission as respondents.
Kurup won the seat uncontested on Feb 24 nomination day after Andipai’s candidacy was rejected after he had submitted his nomination papers after the 10am deadline.
On the nomination day, both Andipai and another candidate Saimeh Usau had missed the deadline and wanted to submit their papers after the expiry of the deadline.
They claimed they have been blocked on their way to the nomination centre.
They were subsequently allowed to do so, with Andipai’s nomination papers accepted at 10.25am and Saimeh’s forms five minutes later.
However, during the one-hour objection period from 11am, Kurup had raised objections to the late submissions and they were accepted by the returning officer. He then disqualified the two candidates from contesting.
Kurup is the president of the Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah president and was subsequently appointed deputy rural development minister after the general election. He is also a former Sabah deputy chief minister.
By-election in 30 days, pending appeal
Meanwhile, Election Commission (EC) chief Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman when contacted said the commission could only determine whether a by-election would be held only after Sept 22.
This was because the Election Court has a 14-day period to officially notify the EC on its decision, while Kurup also has two weeks to file an appeal to the Federal Court if he wants to.
“A by-election would be held (immediately) only if there is no appeal (from Kurup), so we have to wait until after the 14-day period to decide,” Abdul Rashid told Malaysiakini.
Under the election law, Kurup can file an appeal against the Election Court’s decision to the land’s highest court, the Federal Court, within 14 days.
The court will then have six months to hear and decide on the case. The Federal Court’s decision is final and cannot be challenged.
If there is no appeal from Kurup, a by-election will be called by the EC within 30 days.