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Malaysian EC reviewing if ousted MIC lawmaker can contest again in Cameron Highlands by-election

Malaysian EC reviewing if ousted MIC lawmaker can contest again in Cameron Highlands by-election

A motorist rides past flags of Barisan Nasional, May 8, 2018. (Photo: AFP/Manan Vatsyayana)

PUTRAJAYA: The Election Commission (EC) is looking into whether C Sivarraajh of the Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) is eligible to run for office again in the Cameron Highlands by-election to be held on Jan 26.

The former lawmaker for Cameron Highlands had to vacate his seat after it was found that voters were induced to vote for Barisan Nasional (BN) during the May general election, triggering next month’s contest.

MIC is part of the former ruling BN coalition. 

In a news conference on Wednesday (Dec 19), EC chairman Azhar Azizan Harun said the commission has to refer to legal advisers before making a decision on Sivarraajh’s eligibility.

The commission will make a decision before nomination day on Jan 12. Early voting will take place on Jan 22.

“The campaign period is 14 days, from nomination day to 11.59pm on Jan 25, 2019,” said Azhar, adding that the EC is targeting a turnout of 70 per cent.

On Nov 30, the Election Court declared BN’s victory in Cameron Highlands in the 14th general election null and void, after deciding that there had been corrupt practices to influence voters there.

The court did not find any evidence directly linking Sivarraajh to bribing voters, but found there was bribery to vote for the BN candidate.

Sivarraajh, who is vice president of MIC, did not appeal the court decision.

However, the party has included Sivarraajh among its shortlisted candidates for next month’s by-election, according to party president S A Vigneswaran.

Vigneswaran said on Tuesday that Sivarraajh was included because of positive feedback from the ground.

The Election Court also did not find him guilty of committing corruption and he is thus qualified to be a candidate, Vigneswaran stated.

After the EC decision on Nov 30, MIC is down to one seat in the federal parliament.

The Cameron Highlands constituency has 32,009 registered voters, comprising 31,750 ordinary voters, 247 early voters and 12 absentee voters.

Next month’s contest is the fifth by-election after the 14th general election.

The first by-election was for the Sungai Kandis state seat (on Aug 4); the second and third for the Balakong and Seri Setia state seats (Sep 8) and the fourth for the Port Dickson parliamentary seat (Oct 13).

In the May general election, Sivarraajh had polled 10,307 votes to win the seat with a majority of 597 votes in a five-cornered contest.

The other candidates were M Manogaran of the Democratic Action Party (9,710 votes); Wan Mahadir Wan Mahmud of Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (3,587 votes); Mohd Tahir Kassim of Berjasa (81 votes) and B Suresh Kumar of Parti Sosialis Malaysia (680 votes).

Manogaran filed an election petition on Jun 4 seeking a court order to declare the election null and void for violation of provisions in the Election Offences Act 1954.

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