Judge Kamaludin Md Said says the court cannot interfere in the internal affairs of political parties but party allegedly faces a risk if the appeal is allowed, with the possibility of a national crisis as to the validity of the party’s candidates.
The High Court here has dismissed the application for leave for a judicial review by16 former Umno members to dissolved the party due to postponed internal election.
In delivering his decision today, Justice Datuk Kamaludin Md Said said he had considered the questions raised by the plaintiffs, but felt that he was bound by Section 18C of the Societies Act.
“A political party’s decision on the party’s affairs ‘shall be final and conclusive’ and shall not be challenged, reviewed, questioned or quashed in any court,” he said.
Section 18C of the Societies Act stipulates that the decision of a political party made under on the interpretation of its constitution shall be final and conclusive and such decision shall not be challenged, appealed against, reviewed, quashed or called in question in any court on any grounds
Lawyer Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla, who represented the 16, said he had received instructions to appeal the decision and said he would do so at the “soonest possible time”.
“I already have the documents for the appeal prepared. This is an important question for us to resolve as by allowing political parties to hide behind 18C, is to allow them to become a law unto themselves,” he said.
“His lordship was of the opinion that since the other cases were not related to political parties…the judge decided to ignore the clear decisions of the federal court which clearly state that any provisions are all inclusive whether it is the Kindergarten Act, the College Act or whatever Act.”
Asked if Umno was “in the clear” following the decision, Mohamed Haniff said the party faced a risk if the appeal was allowed there would be the possibility of a national crisis as to the validity of the party’s candidates.
“But that is up to the wisdom of the Umno leadership, on what to do. We are still going to appeal but I advise the party to hold back from contesting with its logo.”
Seri Merpati Pandan Indah Umno branch leader Salihudin Ahmad Khalid, one of the 16, said he was disappointed by the decision and would appeal the decision.
He also said that the legal proceedings were initiated on April 20, while the notice of dismissal from the party was issued the day later.
“I was still a member of the party at the time and there is no question as to my right to legal action,” he said.
On April 20, the group, led by Salihudin, filed the judicial review application to, among others, quash the Registrar of Societies (RoS) decision granting Umno an extension to hold its party election until April 19 next year.
They also sought for a court order to compel the RoS to probe all complaints made by party members regarding the legitimacy of Umno, as well as a court order to compel RoS to issue a notice to temporarily suspend Umno’s operations and activities until the end of this lawsuit.
They also sought for court declarations that all Umno branches are automatically dissolved and without valid legal powers for any political activities since March 1, and that all Umno divisions and Umno supreme council were also automatically dissolved since April 20.
They also want the courts to declare that Umno is invalid and dissolved since April 20.
A day after the lawsuit was filed, Umno secretary-general Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Mansor announced that the 16 had automatically lost their party membership for violating the party constitution by bringing party matters to court.
Umno has to hold elections for its branches, divisions and supreme council once every three years, and its last party elections were held on October 19, 2013.
In June 2015, Umno president Datuk Seri Najib Razak said the elections initially due in 2016 had been postponed for 18 months as it needed to make preparations for the 14th general election.
The 16 who sued Umno had in court documents said this meant that Umno’s branch elections should have been held on February 28, 2018, after the end of the 18-month extension allowed under the party constitution.
Under the 18-month extension permitted under party constitution, the Umno elections for its divisions and supreme council would have been due on April 19, 2018.
The 16 said that Tengku Adnan had on February 27, 2018, however, announced that Umno elections would be held on April 19, 2019, in line with RoS’ approval.
The 16 pointed out that the RoS had only announced six days later on March 5 its approval of Umno elections to be deferred until April 19, 2019, claiming this had cast a negative perception on the party’s reputation. – Malay Mail