By Chris Maskilone
KOTA KINABALU: Yamani Hafez Musa will stay on as the Member of Parliament for Sipitang after an Election Petition filed against him was ordered to be struck out at the Election Court here Monday.
Kuching-based High Court Judge Azhahari Kamal Ramli made the ruling after disallowing the petitioner’s application for an adjournment of the trial to May.
“Election petition must be concluded within six months. Hence, all directions must be strictly complied with.
“I am minded of the fact that the order for discovery was only ordered on 2nd April, 2019. However, when the application was filed, the petitioner should be prepared to comply with the Court’s directions and to proceed with the trial as the trial dates has been fixed much earlier,” he said.
Azhahari was of the opinion that the petitioner’s response to the Court’s enquiry that it would be on a piecemeal basis should the trial proceeded today was not a good ground for adjournment.
The petitioner’s counsel Chung Jiun Dau had told the Court that if the Court were to proceed today the trial will be conducted by piecemeal especially the witnesses because the documents were not in.
Azhahari said it must be bear in mind that
the parties are at liberty to recall any witnesses and to file Supplementary Bundle of Documents in the course of the trial.
“As of today, I observe that there is no Bundle of Documents filed by the petitioner as well as the witness statements notwithstanding the directions that have been given earlier.
“I can’t help, but, to say that the petitioner is not ready for the trial and in the circumstances, I disallowed the application for adjournment and order that the petition be struck out with no order as to cost,” he said.
Chung and Fareez Salleh acting for the petitioner, Noor Hayaty Mustapha informed the Court that they did not have sufficient time to compile documents from the discovery and inspection conducted last Friday for purposes of trial today.
“We have realised in the course of trying to get ready for the start of today’s trial that certain witnesses will be giving evidence in respect of the charge or quasi criminal aspect under Section 32(a) and 32(c) of the Election Offences Act as well of the non-compliance under Section 32(b).
“So, we realise that it would not be very practical to split the evidence by these witnesses and therefore, we are requesting that this week’s trial dates be vacated and certain other dates in May be given to replace this week’s trial dates, so that, it gives parties sufficient time to prepare the Bundle of Documents as well as the witness statements accordingly,” said Chung.
Lead counsel for Yamani, Jeyan Marimuttu said they have been given instructions to object to the application to vacate this trial date for this week.
“We submit that the discovery and inspection of documents though conducted last Friday will not by itself have any bearing on the continuation of the trial,” he said.
Furthermore, Jeyan said that until today’s morning they have yet to receive any witness statement from the petitioner although the Court has directed that it must be filed and served seven days prior to the commencement of trial that is today.
“We did indicate to the Petitioner’s advocate that we have witness statements ready for exchange on the 1st April, 2019. However, we did not receive any response,” added Jeyan.
Japar Esteban together with Faizal Sarbi and Shahlan Jufri representing the Sipitang Election Returning Officer and Election Commission expressed their readiness to proceed but left it to the Court to decide on the petitioner’s request.
Noor Hayaty who was the Parti Warisan Sabah (Warisan) candidate in the 14th General Election for the Sipitang parliamentary seat is seeking a court declaration that Yamani’s victory on May 9 last year was null and void.
Her original Election Petition filed last June had been rejected by the Election Court in October last year, however the Federal Court on Feb 18 accepted the petitioner’s appeal.
The Federal Court ordered the petition to be returned to Election Court here albeit in front of a new judge.
Yamani who is son of former Sabah Chief Minister Tan Sri Musa Aman won with a majority of 852 votes over Noor Hayaty.
The other counsels for Yamani were Rizwandean Borhan, Mohd Reduan Aklee and Azhier Arisin.-SabahNewsToday