By Wong Choon Mei
The Federal Court will begin a two-day hearing in Kota Kinabalu today, and is expected to start with the appeal by Barisan Nasional leader Joseph Kurup against the quashing of his Pensiangsan seat victory in the March 2008 general election.
The court will also hear another Sabah case – this time, an appeal by a voter in the Api Api state constituency, who alleged the victory secured by another BN leader Yee Moh Chai should be overturned for alleged corrupt practices and intimidation.
The hearings were originally due to take place in Putrajaya, but this was not feasible because some lawyers acting in the two cases were not members of the Malayan Bar – a mandatory requirement to appear before courts in Peninsula Malaysia.
Perhaps, drawing greater limelight will be the much-followed Pensiangan parliamentary seat, which involves Kurup – Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah president and deputy rural development minister in the federal cabinet.
If the court rejects his appeal, this would pave way for a parliamentary by-election in Sabah, allowing the Pakatan Rakyat to make the inroads it has been eyeing into the East Malaysian state.
Pensiangan is located some 200km from the city and with a voter base of 19,712 comprising largely ethnic Muruts. Non-Muslim bumiputera form 85 percent of the constituency, 12 percent are Muslim bumiputera, while about 1.5 percent are Chinese. There are two state seats under Pensiangan – Nabawan and Sook.
Kurup had won the seat uncontested after a returning officer disallowed KeADILan candidate Danny Andipai’s nomination on the grounds that his papers were filed only after nomination closing time of 10 am.
On Sept 8 last year, the High Court quashed the outcome of the Pensiangan contest, ruling that the returning officer Bubudan OT Majalu had erred in overturning an Election Commission directive that Andipai’s papers were in order, and acceptable despite crossing the deadline.
In Api Api, the outcome will be just as important for the Pakatan, which is also keen to make headway into the state governments of Sabah and Sarawak.
In this case, the High Court had dismissed with costs a petition challenging the election of BN candidate Yee Moh Chai, the Parti Bersatu Sabah deputy president and state resource development minister.
Yee won the seat with a 174-vote majority against KeADILan’s Christina Liew.
Api Api is part of downtown Kota Kinabalu, with a voter base of 10,775, mostly Chinese.
Federal Court begins hearing of Pensiangan, Api Api cases
By Wong Choon Mei