Court Dismisses Anwar’s Suit Over Right To Vote

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KUALA LUMPUR, Jul 15 – The High Court today dismissed a suit brought by jailed Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim over his right to vote in the Permatang Pauh parliamentary by-election on May 7 last year, and ruled that the Election Commission had never denied him the right. 

Senior Federal Counsel Datuk Amarjeet Singh said High Court Judge Datuk Nor Bee Ariffin, in delivering the verdict in chambers, held that Anwar had to apply to the Prisons director-general to allow him to go to his polling station and exercise his right to vote. 

“Since, he is a prisoner, the EC has no jurisdiction over prisoners. The law in this country is that to exercise your vote is voluntary. The person who wants to vote must go to a polling station himself and ask for the ballot paper,” he told reporters. Amarjeet Singh, who was representing the EC, its former chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof and the government, said the judge also held that only if Anwar had been denied the right to vote, could he make a complaint against the EC. 

He said the court, therefore, dismissed with RM5,000 costs Anwar’s originating summons against the EC and two others for allegedly barring him from casting his vote. Lawyer N. Surendran, who acted for Anwar, said this ruling meant that prisoners who had registered as voters before conviction could exercise their right to vote. 

Anwar, 69, who is serving a five-year jail sentence in the Sungai Buloh Prison for having sodomised his personal aide, was present in court today. On May 6 last year, Anwar, who is the former Permatang Pauh MP, filed an originating summons to seek a declaration on his right to vote as provided for in Article 119 of the Federal Constitution. 

Besides damages and costs, Anwar also sought that the defendants take appropriate action to enforce his right as a voter. In a supporting affidavit, Anwar claimed that on April 30 last year his lawyer had sent a letter of demand to the EC and Abdul Aziz for confirmation on his eligibility to vote in the by-election, but no response was received from them. 

He claimed that the action by the EC and Abdul Aziz in not replying to his letter had denied him his right as a voter and it was a breach of Article 119 of the Federal Constitution. He said he was already a registered voter in Permatang Pauh before his conviction by the Federal Court on Feb 10 last year and had voted in the constituency in the 13th general election three years ago. — Bernama

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