Watch out election observers! Another by-election coming after a lull!
Kota Siputeh rep waits for final court decision on by-election
JITRA, Feb 1 — The fate of Jerlun Umno division head Datuk Abu Hassan Sarip as the State Assemblyman for Kota Siputeh is expected to be known very soon.
Deputy Chairman of the Election Commission (EC) Datuk Wan Ahmad Wan Omar said the Court of Appeal would decide on the status of the Kota Siputeh state seat, whether it would remain with the Barisan Nasional (BN) or call for a by-election.
“We are awaiting the decision of the Appeals Court after the panel of judges study the written judgment by the High Court Judge,” he said when contacted by Bernama.
The Kota Siputeh state constituency has 19,771 voters and of the total, 18,130 are Malays while the rest is made up of Chinese, Indians and the Siamese community.
The state constituency is within the Jerlun Parliamentary constituency represented by BN’s Datuk Mukhriz Tun Mahathir situated along the Kedah/Perlis border.
Wan Ahmad said the EC was ready for any eventuality and if the Appeals Court directed for a by-election, one would have to be called for as the last general election was held less than two years ago.
The ‘maturity’ period where a by-election need not be held even if there is a vacancy is three years after the general election, in this case after June 2011.
State Assembly Speaker Datuk Dr Abdul Isa Ismail said the move to vacate the Kota Siputeh state seat was most appropriate based on Article 51 of the Kedah State Constitution when Abu Hassan was found to be absent from the State Assembly sitting twice consecutively.
He said Abu Hassan had lost his eligibility as a State Assemblyman since Aug 17, 2009 and as such, he was prevented from attending the State Assembly’s budget sitting in November.
Kedah Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Azizan Abdul Razak said the case should be taken as a lesson by all State Assemblymen with regard to their responsibility to attend the State Assembly sitting.
On the possibility of a by-election, the Kedah Pas commissioner said the party had always felt that wresting an Umno seat would always be a difficult task.
“We know the Kota Siputeh state seat is an Umno stronghold and Pas has never won the seat since it was created under the Jerlun Parliamentary constituency,” he said.
Nevertheless, Azizan said Pas would certainly contest the seat and field a candidate acceptable to the constituents.
Should a by-election be held in Kota Siputeh, it would be the second in the state after the by-election for the Bukit Selambau state seat in April last year.
The Bukit Selambau by-election was held when its Assemblyman V. Arumugam from the Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) resigned. PKR retained the seat through S. Manikumar in the by-election which created history when it was contested by 13 candidates including BN’s Datuk S. Ganeson.
Abu Hassan has represented the Kota Siputeh state seat for three terms consecutively. However, according to Umno sources, it is uncertain whether Abu Hassan would be fielded again as the candidate as several other names have been mentioned.
They include the Jerlun Umno vice-head Abdul Aziz Mahmud, Umno divisional committee member Zulkefli Awang, Jerlun Umno Youth head Mohamad Hairi Ahmad and Jerlun Wanita Umno head Datuk Maznah Abdul Hamid.
Deputy Prime Minister and Umno deputy president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin was recently quoted as saying that in the event of a by-election, Mukhriz would not be fielded as the candidate.
On Nov 23, High Court (Appellate and Special Powers) Judge Datuk Alizatul Khair Osman Khairuddin had dismissed the application by the EC to postpone the order made by him earlier at the High Court on Nov 16 when he declared the Kota Siputeh state seat vacant and that Abu Hassan was no longer as Assemblyman.
He had also ordered the EC to issue a writ for a by-election. However, the EC later filed an appeal at the Putrajaya Appeals Court. — Bernama