Art Harun tells Tommy Thomas not to blame others for his failure to remove the ouster clause in the Elections Act

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Former attorney-general Tommy Thomas should not blame others for his failure to amend the law to enable the Election Commission’s decisions in an election to be challenged, said Dewan Rakyat Speaker Azhar Azizan Harun.

Azhar, formerly the EC chairman, denied he was opposed to the legal changes as charged by Thomas in his book, My Story: Justice in the Wilderness.

TMI

“He whitewashed all of it to say that I am against good governance. I was trying to tell him you cannot remove it because it will be difficult to run elections,” Azhar told The Malaysian Insight when contacted today.

He said Thomas should have thought of solutions before going through with the bid.

Thomas wrote in his book that Azhar was among the people who were against the bill to remove the ouster clauses to allow the people to challenge the EC’s electoral decisions.

“I was absolutely shocked when Art Harun defended the EC’s view, which he personally subscribed to, that the numerous ouster clauses in the EC laws were absolutely necessary,” Thomas said, referring to Azhar by his nickname.

The ouster clause in Section 9A of the Elections Act prevents a certified electoral roll from being challenged in the court of law.

Thomas said Azhar’s response had caused him to doubt his ability to persuade the government agencies to join his cause.

“If I could not persuade Azhar to support the access to court with regard to the EC’s decision, what hope would I have with the Ministry of Home Affairs?”

The ouster clause in Section 9A of the Elections Act prevents a certified electoral roll from being challenged in the court of law.

Azhar today said he had done nothing more than give Thomas his honest opinion as the EC chief at the time.

“He is blaming me for not pursuing the ouster clause agenda. You are the A-G, you should be procuring the buy-in from relevant parties.

“How many engagements have you done prior? I was directed to fill up a questionnaire to express my views.”

Azhar said he was not unilaterally opposed to the bill and had discussed it with the EC secretariat as well as consulted the experts.

“I discussed it with my secretariat. I also had engagements with Ambiga and Chin Huat,” Azhar said referring to political scientist Wong Chin Huat and former president of the Bar Ambiga Sreenevasan.

Azhar said he had suggested to Thomas that the matter be deliberated by an independent adjudication body made up of retired judges and eminent persons instead of the courts.

“It was not to say I rejected the idea of removing the ouster clause, but we have to find solutions. Knowing the law alone does not make you a good A-G, you must be a practical A-G too.

“You need to know the dynamics behind the law. If you want to amend any law, you will need to know what impact it will have.” – TMI


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