P. Ramakrishnan continues the latest saga on the legality of Umno, the party.
He says, “The case was filed three days ago on Friday, April 4, 2018. Today, on Monday, April 23, 2018, the petitioners were informed that their application would be heard three days from today, on Thursday, April 26, 2018”.
The speed with which the court moved is bewildering.
He also asks “Who pushed for the case to be heard within a week? Who ordered the date to be set on Thursday, April 26, 2018? Are unseen hands working behind the screen?”
The former president of Aliran, has kindly given permission for Rebuilding Malaysia, to reproduce it.
Umno is illegal – No court should rule otherwise!
In a strange twist of the legal process, the judiciary has moved with super speed to hear the case filed by the former 16 members of Umno.
The 16 wanted a judicial review application to:
i. Quash the RoS decision granting Umno an extension until April 19, 2019;
ii. Compel the RoS to investigate their complaints that the party elections were not held according to Umno’s constitution;
iii. Order the dissolution of Umno for breaching the party constitution.
The case was filed three days ago on Friday, April 20, 2018. Today, on Monday, April 23, 2018, the petitioners were informed that their application would be heard three days from today, on Thursday, April 26, 2018
Court acting with bewildering speed
The speed with which the court has moved would indicate that this case would very likely be wrapped up on that day itself. It has been observed that usually the wheels of justice don’t move that fast or so efficiently. But, I suppose, there has to be an exception and this must be the one!
Strangely, the petitioners did not file a certificate of urgency to have the case heard the soonest. They did not push for an immediate hearing. Then, pray tell us, why the urgency?
Umno did not intervene in this matter even though its stakes are very high. It did not take steps to have this case dismissed. It did not get involved though serious the case was with ominous implications for its very existence.
Thinking Malaysians are wondering why the hurry to have this case heard and, perhaps, disposed of before April 29, 2018 so that Umno can file the names of its candidates on Nomination Day allowing the BN logo to be used for GE14’s polling day less than two weeks later on May 9, 2018.
Who pushed for the case to be heard within a week? Who ordered the date to be set on Thursday, April 26, 2018? Are unseen hands working behind the screen? These are questions that are being raised. One would think that these are legitimate questions.
Will the case be thrown out?
Is it possible that the case may be struck off on technical grounds? We pray that the court will not resort to technicalities and throw out this case. That would be an injustice. Justice must not lose out on technicalities.
To facilitate this possibility that the ruling would be based on technical grounds, there is talk that the 16 were automatically expelled from the party for taking their case to the court. That being the case, would the court rule that they do not have the locus standi or legal standing to mount a challenge following their expulsion from Umno?
Then there is also the ouster or private clause in Section 18 (C) of the Societies Act 1966 which stipulates that the party decisions cannot be challenged in court. The implication is that whatever decisions made by the party will be final and conclusive and the courts would have no jurisdiction to review these decisions.
This argument is only applicable when those decisions fall within the ambit of the Umno constitution. When decisions are taken in contravention of the constitution and/or on grounds of reasonableness, this ouster or privative clause would have no restraining effect on the courts. The right of the Courts to exercise their right of review on any party decision cannot be ousted when the rules of the constitution are not followed strictly and/or the principle of reasonableness is breached.
Notwithstanding all the counter-arguments why the courts cannot adjudicate in this case, one simple truth supports the court’s intervention. The constitution was not adhered to. That decision was not taken in keeping with the provision of the constitution. Umno did not operate within the confines of its very own constitution, the very document that justifies its continued existence as a political party.
Postponement of supreme council election
Umno postponed its supreme council election which was due by Oct. 19, 2016. On June 26, 2015, Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak, the president of Umno, announced that the supreme council had decided to postpone the party election due in October 2016 by 18 months.
He said, “According to Clause 10.16 of the Umno constitution, the supreme council has the right to postpone elections for its supreme council, divisions and branches. This postponement cannot exceed 18 months from the date the elections were supposed to be held.”
He meant that the Umno supreme council, branch and divisional elections cannot be held after April 19, 2018. It had to be held before this date. That is according to the Umno constitution.
Umno does not have the power or constitutional provisions to seek another postponement after April 19, 2018. That would be in violation of its own constitution.
When a wrong is perpetrated, you can’t claim that the court has no jurisdiction. Umno had exceeded its authority and committed a clear breach of the very constitution that gives it life. The court has the right to intervene in this case.
Any other ruling would be a travesty of justice. “Justice cannot be for one side alone, but must be for both.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
(The views expressed are those of the contributor)