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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

To stamp or not to stamp???

What a joke!!! That is how I describe the Election Commission (EC) over the issue of stamping the statutory declaration by the candidates.

On Thursday (21/2/2008), EC made an announcement that all Statutory Declaration (SD) must be stamped, causing the uproar among the candidates, especially the opposition, as it would mean that candidates would have either Friday (22/2/2008) or Saturday (23/2/2008) to have their SD stamped. It was a last minute call by the EC. The EC said that such requirement is valid in law. That made me wonder!!! Is it so crucial to have the SD stamped? Few questions are in my mind. If it is so vital to have the SD stamped: –

(1) why is it implemented only now and not during the past 11 general elections?
(2) what would be the effect of not having the SD tamped?
(3) why was the announcement made last minute?

People have been speculating and talking about the 12th general election months ago and the EC, as the body in charge of the country’s election had also made their very own preparation, including the usage of the indelible ink. But I just could not understand and I think that it is unexplainable as to why such an important announcement was made last minute and not earlier. I think the issue of stamping is as important as the indelible ink. This is because, without the stamped SD, the nomination can be rejected, which would result in no candidate to contest. If no candidate to contest, then there is no casting of vote. If there is no casting of vote, then on whose finger the EC is to use the indelible ink at? Perhaps, on their own fingers.

But yesterday, the EC made a u-turn to their early announcement. I read a report in The Sun today that (I quote in verbatim): -

The Election Commission has decided that all candidates who submitted their nomination papers without the accompanying statutory declaration being stamped are qualified to stand as candidates in the general election”.

The EC Secretary further said on the effect of failing to have the SD stamped that (I quote in verbatim): -

…although the law required the duty stamp on nomination papers, it was the decision of the commission, which comprises the chairman, deputy chairman and five commissioners, to qualify the candidates

Wow! The EC is now being very nice. Allowing the candidates to contest though they are not complying with the legal requirement. What does this mean?

It was also reported in the newspaper that “under Regulation 6(2A)(c) of the Election Regulation (Conduct of Elections) 1981, returning officers can reject nomination papers of a candidate if the statutory declaration did not adhere to Regulation 4(7) of the Election Regulations”. However, there was no further elaboration on the provision of Regulation 4(7) of the Election Regulation".

I do not have the privileged of reading the said provision of Regulation 4 (7) but I read the Malaysian Bar website yesterday whereby a senior lawyer by the name of Roger Tan, who is also the Malaysian Bar Council’s Conveyancing Practice Committee chairman, said it was legally wrong to reject any nomination if the statutory declaration was not stamped immediately. He said the Regulation 4(7) of the Election Regulation (Conduct of Election) 1981 only provided that the original copy of the statutory declaration must be submitted and did not say it had to be stamped.

Well, if what Roger Tan said is correct, I just don’t understand the move by the EC to make the stamping of the SD mandatory.

EC! Please do not make our country a laughing stock. We have had enough with the Lingam Video Clip Inquiry . Let’s be serious in discharging our duties.

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