Wednesday, May 1, 2013

ROS, DAP FIASCO by K.Siladass




According to the Registrar of Societies (ROS) his office had received complaint in connection with the formation of DAP’s Central Executive Committee (CEC) after its congress on December 15, 2012. In the ordinary course of events the ROS would have ordered an enquiry to ascertain the accuracy and examine the merits of the complaint.

Media reports gave the impression that the ROS had initiated the investigatory process, certain dates have been suggested and agreed upon for the purpose of an enquiry into the complaint by aggrieved DAP members. Now comes the crucial twist to the whole drama: the ROS elected to go public by declaring that the formation of the CEC in December, 2012 was irregular thereby giving a strong hint that the currently serving DAP’s CEC maybe holding office without proper authority. The selection of the date for the announcement by ROS was indeed very crucial because the Election Commission had already announced 20 April as the nomination day and 5 May as the polling day respectively. The ROS is yet to hear the entire evidence from all the parties, therefore, what prompted him to make the announcement which has the effect of telling the whole world that DAP may not be functioning legally in the light of the allegations made in respect of the formation of its CEC?

There maybe substance in the complaint and it is for the ROS to investigate and make a finding. He could not, in the exercise of his powers, make an arbitrary decision based on the complaint itself without a proper enquiry.

It is all nice to say that the ROS had later clarified the position that the serving DAP officials are not disabled from discharging their duties and that its Rocket symbol could be used.

The premature announcement by the ROS, going by the media reports, on the eve of the nomination day, that, “Notwithstanding the fact that the ROS had intimated that the Party was not de-registered as of now, and it was still allowed to use its logo for the 13th General Elections,” had indeed left too many questions unanswered.

Ä              By stating that ROS does not recognize the party’s Central Executive Committees (CEC) formed in December 2012 was not the ROS telling the whole world that the serving CEC members cannot govern the party?

Ä              Was it proper for the ROS to state to the public that he was assessing DAP’s registration?

Although the ROS had clarified that DAP was not de-registered his conduct leaves room for too many speculations. It also raises the question of partiality on the part of the ROS and imminent suspicion that there was some conspiracy to prevent DAP from starting the race itself.

If the ROS had concluded that CEC has not been properly formed, then, that CEC cannot legally function, then how did the ROS concede that the present CEC can use the party’s logo. If the CEC has been improperly formed, then, it cannot function at all. The letter by ROS had indeed sent panic to everyone concerned with democracy and the rule of law. If one is looking for a case where natural justice has been flagrantly violated, then, ROS’s letter to DAP is the one. The ROS seems to have ignored the time honoured legal maxim? You don’t condemn a person without giving him an opportunity of being heard.

The aftermath of ROD’ ill-timed letter could have had far-reaching ramifications. Relying on the letter from ROS, had DAP’s Secretary-General issued letters of authority to its candidate, objection could have been taken on the nomination day on the basis that the Secretary-General was disabled by virtue of the ruling ROS had made that the CEC has been improperly constituted and announced in the media. In such a situation every nomination of a DAP candidate would have been rejected. What a nice way for the opponents to win hands down!

Was this a consequence envisaged by the ROS although he did make an announcement that the party could use the logo. The question is: the entire-CWC having not been recognized, did the same Secretary-General have the authority to authorize the candidature of a person? A vulnerable position. Not too impracticable but a possible scenario.

DAP’s stand that candidates would stand under PAS banner was a precautionary step. Had it happened, then, PAS would have gained greater endorsement from the Malaysians throughout the country. This would have been a bad-omen for UMNO. Perhaps common sense prevailed and DAP has been allowed to contest under its iconic symbol; but, its ordeal with ROS is not over and that is a different matter - it is the party’s duty to explain that the formation of its CEC was proper, otherwise take such remedial measurers as permitted by law. The ROS could even be the mediator to resolve the dispute within DAP, if there is one.

At the end, it was much ado for nothing. It was a side-show in the Malaysia Boleh political comedy.

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