Friday, 21 August 2009

By-election circus continues to entertain first reaction: yet another by-election in the works? This time, in Kedah?

What's happening is that Kedah state assembly Speaker Dr Abdul Isa Ismail wants a by-election for the Kota Siputeh state seat which he has deemed vacant because the incumbent assemblyman has contravened Article 51 of the Kedah state constitution.

This Article states that if any member of the State Legislative Assembly is absent from the assembly without leave of the Speaker for two consecutive meetings, his seat shall become vacant. The assemblyman, Abu Hassan Sarif, was absent from the assembly sitting twice in a row on April 9 and Aug 9.

However, Abu Hassan claimed that he was unwell and had been advised to rest for two days on Aug 9 and 10, and had the medical chit to prove it. Not quite, counter-claimed Abdul Isa. The medical chit was only faxed to him on Aug 12. "The state assembly sat on Aug 9. He could have contacted me or the state executive council's office but he only sent an SMS to the opposition leader."

So he wrote to the state Election Commission (EC) to inform that the seat was vacant. "I wrote to the Kedah EC to inform them about the matter which was then referred to the EC chairman in Putrajaya," Abdul Isa said.

Well, how do I think this issue will be played out? Will the EC declare the seat vacant? We've to remember that now, the omnipotent EC has a lot of discretion in deciding the matter. Just see what happened in Perak at the beginning of the year when the EC refused to recognise the need for by-elections. It plunged the state into a constitutional crisis that's yet to be resolved.

It can jolly well happen again in Kedah, especially if the EC takes the open hint from Muhyiddin Yassin who said on Wednesday, “I’m convinced that based on the facts presented by the assemblyman, he was absent not because he deliberately did not want to attend. So, if the EC can consider this fact, the seat need not be declared vacant.” Yes, that's the same guy that said there was no controversy over their choice of candidate for the Permatang Pasir by-election.

Aiyah....say what you like, lah.

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