(Petaling Jaya, Tuesday):
It would appear that three statements,
one through my political secretary Ean Yong Hian Wah, that I am not interested
to be a candidate in the Gaya parliamentary by-election have
not deterred various persons
from persisting in the proposal that I contest the Gaya seat in Kota Kinabalu.
Let me state for the final time: Nothing could be further from my mind than
contesting in Gaya and I have
absolutely no interest in it. The question of my contesting in Gaya does not
arise at all. In any event, the Gaya by-election should be contested by Sabahans.
What has nagged me about the Gaya by-election, however,
is not who would be
contesting but whether it should be held at all.
I had all along held the view
that if Yong Teck Lee filed a petition for
pardon to the Yang di Pertuan Agong under Article 48(4)(c) of the
Constitution, his disqualification because of having been found guilty of
corrupt practices under the Election Offences Act 1954 in connection with his
election as Likas state assemblyman
in the Sabah state general election on 13th March 1999 would not take
effect immediately until the disposal of the petition.
In this case, I agree with the Parliament Speaker, Tun Zahir Ismail that Yong
is still MP for Gaya as he had filed his petition for pardon to the Yang di
Pertuan Agong before 17th September 2002, or before the expiry of the
14 days allowed him to file the pardon petition after he had exhausted all legal
avenues of appeal after the Federal
Court’s decision on Sept. 3 to reject Yong’s appeal.
The announcement by the Election Commission Chairman Datuk Abdul Rashid Abdul
Rahman on 18th September, after discussion with the
Attorney-General’s Chambers, that Yong had lost his eligibility as MP for Gaya
as his case was not subject to a royal pardon
came as a surprise to me as it does not seem to be in conformity with
Article 48(4) (c) of the Constitution.
As there is ambiguity and doubt
as to whether Yong has lost his eligibility as MP for Gaya as
he had filed his petition for pardon to the Yang di Pertuan Agong within
the specified period, the Cabinet should remove this doubt by invoking Article
130 which states:
“130. The Yang di Pertuan Agong may refer to the Federal Court for its opinion as to the effect of any provision of the Constitution which has arisen or appears to him likely to arise, and the Federal Court shall pronounce in open court its opinion on any question so referred to it.”
The Cabinet should instruct the Attorney-General to seek from the Federal
Court an authoritative interpretation of Article 48(4) (c) of the Constitution
to ascertain whether Yong had lost his eligibility as MP for Gaya and that his
case is not subject to a royal pardon.
The Federal Court’s opinion should be sought before October 3, Nomination Day for Gaya by-election, so that there is certainty not only about the application of Article 48(4) (c) to Yong Teck Lee with regard to the Gaya seat but to all MPs in a similar situation in future.