Judge: Wrong to overturn EC decision

The Star: September 9, 2008
KOTA KINABALU: The outcome of an election petition for the Pensiangan parliament seat hinged on two issues, presiding High Court judge Justice David Wong Dak Wah said.
The first was whether returning officer Bubudan OT Majalu could overturn the state Election Commission deputy director’s decision to the accept the nomination papers of PKR candidate Danny Anthony Andipai.
The second focused on the legal effect of objections against nomination papers without the use of correct forms and signature of the objector.
On the first issue, Justice Wong noted that Bubudan received Andipai’s nomination papers after the 10am deadline after an assistant returning officer contacted the state Election Commission deputy director.
“The deputy director’s decision was final and cannot be overruled by the returning officer on the pretext that there was an objection during the objection period.
“The simple logic behind the doctrine of ‘functus officio’ is to have some certainty in the administration of government machinery. This can only be overruled by a court of law,” the judge said.
Justice Wong said the testimonies during the hearing showed that Andipai and two other candidates were inside the nomination centre well before 10am and had paid the deposits and were given coupons bearing numbers, giving the impression that candidates were required to be called for submission of nomination papers.
He also noted that Bubudan had dealt with three candidates from 9am to 9.40am and had nine candidates to deal with in the last 20 minutes of nomination time.
“The Election Commission through the deputy director found it appropriate that the nomination papers of the petitioner and two others be accepted to ensure the election was held in a fair manner,” Justice Wong added.