Law firm: Ahmad Maslan can contest in GE15 as RM1.1m payment not a court fine

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Election Commission gave this guarantee during negotiations the defence team held for settlement of the case with the Attorney-General’s Chambers.

Fathihl Asri/NST

Pontian MP Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan is eligible to run for public office in the next election despite paying a RM1.1 million penalty, his lawyers said after he was acquitted of two money laundering charges today.

Law firm Tetuan Sharul Hamidi & Haziq which represented the Umno lawmaker said the payment was not a court fine, nor an admission of guilt.

The law firm said it had written to the Election Commission (EC) back in February before the money laundering charges were transferred to the High Court, seeking clarification on the status of Members of Parliament and the eligibility to contest elections in accordance with Article 48A (1) (e) of the Federal Constitution on the issue of compound payments.

“The Election Commission responded to the letter on February 9, 2021, stating that it would refer to the Attorney General’s Chambers for its view.

“The reply letter from the Election Commission regarding our above inquiry was answered on May 5, 2021 with a positive reply that the client in making the compound payment (not the court fine) would not affect his eligibility as a Member of Parliament and would not be disqualified from contesting a parliamentary seat in the coming elections.

“This positive response led to the lawyer’s decision to assess the payment of the compound as the best solution for the case against him,” the legal firm said in a statement.

According to Tetuan Sharul Hamidi & Haziq, the RM1.1 million payment is a settlement that is in accordance with the law that went through a transparent and orderly process.

“This settlement process is solely for the purpose of this case and has nothing to do with any political or external factors and does not involve any person or agency other than the investigation agency and prosecution agency involved,” the law firm said.

Ahmad Maslan’s lawyers added that the compound of RM1.1 million was paid with money donated and borrowed from friends and supporters of the Umno politician.

The Federal Constitution stipulates that a person is disqualified as an election candidate if convicted by a court and sentenced to imprisonment of not less than one year or a fine of not less than RM2,000.