KUALA LUMPUR • Opposition pact Pakatan Harapan (PH) lost six seats even before campaigning began after its nominees were disqualified yesterday, leading it accuse the Election Commission (EC) of conspiring to keep Barisan Nasional (BN) in power.
The most contentious disqualification was of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) vice-president Tian Chua, who was barred from defending his Batu parliamentary seat after the returning officer (RO) ruled that his earlier conviction for insulting a police officer barred him from contesting.
The two-term MP was first fined RM3,000 (S$1,013) and jailed six months for his offence, but the sentence was later reduced to a fine of RM2,000.
Malaysian law disqualifies an elected representative if he is sentenced to a prison term of more than a year, or fined more than RM2,000.
According to Mr Chua, RO Anwar Mohd Zain refused to entertain his appeals despite being shown the second court judgment. Mr Chua said he would challenge the decision in court.
EC chairman Mohd Hashim Abdullah said that any nominee could challenge the RO's decision and "when the decision is made by the court, we will adhere to it", but did not explain the RO's rationale.
Meanwhile, PKR's Dr Streram Sinnasamy could not enter the nomination centre to register his bid for the Rantau seat because he did not have an entry pass. The seat is defended by Negeri Sembilan Menteri Besar Mohamad Hasan, who was returned unopposed.
Four others from PH were disqualified for being bankrupt, although a few of them insisted they had been cleared by the authorities. PAS' Subang Jaya nominee Mohamad Badri Abdul Rahman was disqualified for the same reason.
Meanwhile, independent hopeful Rajendra Ammasi - who arrived at the nomination centre for Bayan Baru in Penang dressed as Indian superstar M.G. Ramachandran, popularly known as MGR - was disqualified for failing to declare his expense statement from the last general election.