PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia’s Federal Court on Monday (Feb 18) upheld a ruling to nullify the victory of United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) acting president Mohamad Hasan during the last general election, triggering a by-election in Rantau, Negeri Sembilan.
This could plunge UMNO into more uncertainty, after several defections by its members.
Chief Justice Richard Malanjum made the ruling after dismissing appeals brought by Mr Mohamad and the Election Commission (EC) against a decision by the Election Court back in November.
“We are unanimous. We dismiss the appeals with costs,” the judge said, adding that the written judgment would be delivered later.
The judge also ordered Mr Mohamad and the EC to each pay RM10,000 (US$2,449) in costs to Parti Keadilan Rakyat candidate S Streram.
On Nov 16, the EC allowed an election petition filed by Mr Streram, who said he was denied entry to submit his nomination form as he did not have a name tag or pass issued by the commission.
Mr Streram claimed that the EC had failed to inform him when collecting the nomination form that he needed a name tag or pass to enter the nomination centre on nomination day.
As a result, Mr Mohamad won the Rantau seat unopposed.
UMNO is in turmoil, with senior figures leaving the party. On Dec 12, more than a dozen Sabah UMNO lawmakers and state assemblymen quit and pledged their support to the Pakatan government. Two days later, six UMNO lawmakers in the peninsula followed suit.
After days of defying calls by members to resign, UMNO president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi handed over his duties to Mr Mohamad, the party’s deputy president on Dec 18. Mr Mohamad was later appointed the acting president of the party.
Some UMNO politicians have expressed a desire to join PPBM. Just last week, seven members of parliament who defected from UMNO were accepted into Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad’s Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia.
MOHAMAD, STRERAM TO FACE OFF AGAIN
Mr Mohamad said on Monday that he accepted the verdict with an open heart.
“The by-election should be held soon, I am ready and waiting for the EC to announce when the by-election will be called,” he said.
In a Facebook post, he pledged to challenge for the Rantau seat again. Meanwhile, Mr Streram told reporters he was very happy with the ruling. “This result has lifted our spirits," he said.
He added that he would contest in the by-election.