Najib: Joseph Kurup no longer deputy minister

Husna Yusop (The Sun)
PUTRAJAYA (Sept 8, 2008): Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak said Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah (PBRS) Tan Sri Joseph Kurup cannot be a deputy minister for now as he lost his Pensiangan parliamentary seat in an election petition case today.
However, he said, the Deputy Rural and Regional Development Minister could be re-appointed if the party fields him again in the coming by-election and he wins.
Speaking to reporters after chairing the Early Child Education and Care Policy Coordinating Council, Najib said the Barisan Nasional (BN) had expected the result of the Pensiangan court case and accepted the High Court’s decision.
The party will file an appeal and at the same time, prepare for the possibility of a by-election.
“We will do the needful and we are going to ensure BN’s victory in Pensiangan,” he said.
In Kota Kinabalu, Bernama reported that the High Court today declared null and void Kurup’s election as unopposed winner of the Pensiangan parliamentary seat in the March 8 polls.
In delivering the landmark judgment, Justice David Wong Dak Wah ruled that the wrongful rejection of the nomination papers of the petitioner, Parti Keadilan
Rakyat’s Danny Anthony Andipai, had breached the petitioner’s constitutional right to take part in the election and election laws.
In his 36-page judgment, Wong said the decision of the deputy director of the Sabah Election Commission to accept Andipai’s nomination papers was final and could not be overruled by the returning officer, Bubudan OT Majalu, under the pretext that there was an objection during the objection period.
The deputy director was exercising a power provided for by law in making the decision, said the judge who also ruled that Bubudan’s decision to uphold the objection was a wrong one.
“I find certain aspects of the second repondent’s (Bubudan’s) conduct troubling and when taken in its totality, I can only conclude that the decision made was definitely not one which a reasonable tribunal would come to.”
He made the observation when allowing Andipai’s petition to nullify the election result of the Pensiangan seat which Kurup won unopposed on nomination day on Feb 24. Andipai had named Kurup and Bubudan as respondents.
Wong said Andipai arrived at the nomination centre at the Nabawan District Council Hall about 9.35am to file his nomination papers.
After paying the RM15,000 deposit, he waited his turn but when he tried to submit his nomination papers, Bubudan refused to accept them on the ground that he was late in submitting them.
Andipai argued that it was not his fault but that of Bubudan and his staff. While the discussion was going on, one of the assistant returning officers, Osman
Aganduk, sought the advice of the state election commission which gave the directive to accept the nomination papers.
Wong said the directive, which came from the deputy director of the Election Commission of Sabah, was relayed to Bubudan who then accepted Andipai’s nomination papers at 10.25am.
Objections closed at 11am and at about 1.25pm, Bubudan announced that Kurup was returned unopposed and declared him duly elected on the ground that the nomination papers of Andipai and an independent candidate, Saineh Usau, were delivered after 10am.
On whether regulations 6(2) and 6 (2A) (a) of the 1981 regulations prohibited Bubudan or the EC to allow receipt of nomination papers after 10am on nomination day, Wong said: “If I were to adopt the position of the respondents, it may lead to a chaotic situation.”
He said in this particular case, the nomination centre was used to cater for two state constituencies and a parlimentary constituency, where only one counter was open for all the candidates for the three constituencies to submit nomination papers.
He said in the event that a large number of people wanted to nominate themselves, “are we to say that only those who are able to submit their nomination papers before 10am are entitled to exercise their constitutional rights to contest in the election?”
“If that is the law, it will lead to abuse and chaos, abuse in that one party can get a group of people to submit their nomination papers early to ensure that his or her opponent will not get to the returning officers before 10am.”
Andipai’s leading counsel, Ansari Abdullah, who is also Sabah PKR chief, said he was happy “that justice is done”.
Kurup could not be reached for comment.
In another development, asked about talks that Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad who has left Umno will be re-joining the party, Najib said: “I don’t know yet. We have yet to get anything official. Wait until I hear something more formal, then I would comment.”