What Led To The Disqualifications Of PKR's Tian Chua And Dr Streram?

Political observers have dubbed their disqualifications as being "unprecedented".

Cover image via NST Online (Edited)

The nomination for the 14th General Election (GE14) candidates that took place on Saturday, 28 April, ended with some unexpected and shocking drama that show two PKR candidates being disqualified

One being Tian Chua, vice president of PKR and two-term MP, who was barred from defending his Batu parliamentary seat in Kuala Lumpur.

The other candidate being Dr Streram Sinnasamy, who was reportedly barred from entering the nomination centre to contest the Rantau parliamentary seat.

Dr Streram, an anaesthetist at a private hospital, was contesting for the first time.

While Tian Chua's disqualification puts the Barisan Nasional in the hot seat to win back the Batu parliamentary seat, Dr Streram's disqualification means caretaker Negeri Sembilan Menteri Besar Mohamad Hasan has won the Rantau state seat uncontested.

What went wrong with Tian Chua's nomination?

In disqualifying Tian Chua, Returning Officer (RO) Anwar Mohd Zain said that the decision was made based on Article 48 of the Federal Constitution of 1948, which states that an elected representative is disqualified if he is sentenced to more than 12 months' jail or fined more than RM2,000, and has not received a pardon.

The PKR's Batu MP was found guilty by the Petaling Jaya Sessions Court in March last year for using foul language against a police officer and was fined RM3,000. However, the Shah Alam High Court on 2 March 2018 had reduced the fine to RM2,000, effectively allowing the two-term Batu MP to contest in the 14th General Election.

And as pointed out by Eric Paulsen on Twitter, when it was previously deemed by the High Court and Dewan Rakyat Speaker Pandikar that RM2,000 fine does not disqualify an MP/candidate, which makes one question the legality of the Returning Officer's decision to summarily reject Tian Chua's nomination papers on 28 April.

Additionally, the decision by RO Anwar Mohd Zain comes off as contradictory considering the fact that Tian Chua, while facing a similar situation in 2013 when he was convicted and fined RM2,000, was allowed to contest in GE13.

In the 2013 General Elections, Chua defended and won the Batu seat. The PKR vice-president, in fact, increased his majority in 2013 Polls from 9,455 to 13,284.

Tian Chua has now lodged a police report, stating that Election Commision RO Anwar Mohd Zain has violated a court ruling

According to a report in NST Online, the PKR vice-president has expressed anger and sadness over the RO's handling of the matter, calling him "biased".

Chua claims that he had advised the RO to seek legal advice from the attorney-general before deciding to reject his nomination, but the RO reportedly refused.

"He said he did not have to seek anybody's advice and his power was absolute. He said he had the right to reject my nomination papers even though a court ruling clearly stated that I am qualified to be a candidate," Chua was quoted as saying.

So is there a chance for Chua?

Well, Election Commission chairman Mohd Hashim Abdullah, who said Chua can file a petition with the court to decide on his disqualification, was quoted saying by The Star Online that it is "premature to rule out that Tian Chua will be completely disqualified from contesting in GE14," adding that the EC "will abide by the court's ruling."

The suggestion by EC chairman Abdullah that Chua cannot yet be ruled out completely has promoted the PKR vice-president to ask the EC to give a clear explanation.

And what about Dr Streram Sinnasamy?

His disqualification — which allowed the Rantau state seat to remain with BN's Negeri Sembilan Menteri Besar Mohamad Hasan — after being barred from entering the nomination centre has created a lot of noise on social media with BN's Khairy Jamaluddin and PKR's Rafizi Ramli even having a heated exchange on Twitter.

Image via Khairy/Twitter

Reportedly, Dr Streram, his proposer and seconders were not carrying a candidate pass that is issued by the EC, due to which they were not allowed into the nomination centre. However, Dr Streram claims that such a pass had not even been issued to him.

According to a report in Malaysiakini, PKR's Dr Streram Sinnasamy has accused the police of stopping him from entering the nomination centre in Rembau.

"The police pushed me down. They said they would handcuff me. There were about 20 police officers, they were holding my chest," he said, according to Malaysiakini, which reported that when the 62-year-old anesthesiologist was trying to enter the nomination centre, police formed a line to prevent him from doing so.

Inspector-general of police (IGP) Mohamad Fuzi Harun, on the other hand, claims his men did not prevent Dr Streram from entering into the nomination centre.

"The move to deny entry to the candidate was made by the returning officer.

"We were only there to ensure the security in the area. Our personnel were only called in to assist the returning officer. Maybe there was cause for the returning officer's actions. So we just carried out what was asked by the returning officer... So whatever allegations made against us are baseless and untrue," the IGP said, according to multiple reports.

Image via NST Online

Dr Streram, a first time candidate from PKR, says he didn't forget to bring his EC pass as he wasn't informed about the need for a pass

According to him, on Wednesday, 25 April, when he paid the election deposit of RM8,000 to the EC to be a PKR candidate for the state seat of Rantau and got the nomination forms he was not informed about the need for a pass.

He claims that he only learnt about the requirement on 27 April, a day before nomination day, after a friend told him that he needs to collect the EC pass. Following which, he had rushed to the Rembau district office to get the pass, but the office had closed by then. However, an election official, who was present at the office, had told him that he could get the pass at the nomination centre on nomination day.

As advised, Dr Streram arrived early at the nomination centre to collect his EC pass, however, the 62-year-old was denied entry

According to Dr Streram, this is the timeline of the event that occurred on 28 April:

He arrived at the Rembau district office, which is also the nomination centre, at 8am, but was refused entry as he did not have a pass. After an hour, at 9am, Streram tried to hand in his nomination forms through intermediaries but even they couldn't enter.

It was 9.30am and police were still refusing to let Dr Streram enter, stating that they have not received instructions from the Election Commision. About 12 minutes later, at 9.42am, two election officials came and assured him that the issue will be resolved.

However, the two election officials never came back and the nomination period officially ended at 10am, effectively disqualifying Dr Streram from contesting and making Barisan Nasional's caretaker Negeri Sembilan Menteri Besar Mohamad Hassan to be declared a winner by the virtue of being the sole candidate for the Rantau state seat.

Reportedly, in a similar situation that was unfolding about 100km away at the Pandan nomination centre in Kuala Lumpur, where Parti Rakyat Malaysia's (PRM) Jenice Lee who did not have with her an EC pass but was allowed into the nomination centre.

The decision by EC has been criticised on social media as arbitrary, with political observers dubbing the two PKR candidates' shocking disqualifications as being "unprecedented in recent times"

The Straits Times' Malaysia Bureau Chief, Shannon Teoh, while commenting on the whole fiasco, said that it's "practically unheard of for the EC to ignore a court judgment, while there are no laws regarding entry pass requirements to become a candidate."

Tian Chua arrives at the Sentul Police Station to lodge a police report after his nomination was rejected for the Batu parliamentary seat in GE14.

Image via TODAY via MalayMail

What is your take on the disqualifications of Chua and Dr Streram?

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