Tuesday, September 22

EC: Returning officer spot on in rejecting recount

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KUCHING: Returning Officer (RO) for N65 Senadin Chai Ko Het’s rejection of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR)’s request for a recount after the completion of the official addition of votes at the Centre for the Official Addition of Votes, was in accordance with the law.

Chai was right when he acted in accordance with subregulation 23A (1), subregulation 25 (13) and subregulation 25D (5A) of the Elections (Conduct of Elections) Regulations 1981 (R81), said Sarawak Election Commission (EC) through a press statement signed by its director Datu Takun Sunggah yesterday.

However the State EC advised that, any party who was still not satisfied with the decision of the RO could file an election petition in the High Court within 21 days of the date of the publication of the result of the election in the Gazette and in this case, the result of Senadin election which is won by Barisan Nasional (BN) Datuk Lee Kim Shin on the night of April 16.

PKR was represented by Michael Teo Yu Keng who lost to Lee of Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) by a slim majority of 58 votes.

The State EC stated that counting of votes after the close of poll shall be carried out at the polling station in accordance with subregulation 23A (1) of the R81 and that polling station is defined under Section 2 of the Elections Act 1958 to be meant any room or partition which is also known as “stream” provided by the EC in the polling centre.

Counting of votes is the responsibility of the presiding officer in each polling station where he is stationed. In any case of recount of votes, subregulation 25 (1) of the R81 must be referred to.

Subregulation 15 (13) states that: “Where the difference between the number of votes cast for the leading candidate and the number of votes cast for the next leading candidate is four per cent or less of the total number of votes casts, then upon the application of either any candidate or of his election agent or counting agent, a recount shall be made once only before the presiding officer carries out the proceedings set out in the subregulation 25 (12) of the R81. The recount should not take into account rejected ballot papers.

Subregulation 15 (13) must be read together with subregulation 23A of the R81.

In accordance with subregulation 25D (5A) of R81, a candidate or his election agent may after the completion of the official addition of votes require the RO to have the number of votes recorded in the original statement of poll in Form 14 to be added up again but the RO may refuse to do so if in his opinion the request is unreasonable.

The re-addition of votes is the proceeding undertaken by RO upon request by a candidate or his election agent after the completion of official addition of votes at the centre for official addition of votes in each constituency.

This proceeding is in accordance with subregulation 25 D (5A) of the R81.

The recount of votes is the proceeding in which the votes cast for every candidates to be counted again by the presiding officer at the polling station in the event of the difference between the number of votes cast for the leading candidate and the number of votes cast for the next leading candidate is four per cent or less of the total number of votes cast.

The recount can only be done once and upon request from a candidate or his election agent or his counting agent at polling station.

The regulation that once allowed the request for a recount at the centre for the official addition of votes has been amended and deleted via Gazette NO. P.U (A) 164/2006.

The State EC also cited the case of Sibu parliamentary by-election as example.

At the P.212 Sibu parliamentary by-election,  a candidate from DAP won with a majority of 398 votes which was less than four per cent of the total votes cast excluding rejected votes.

BN’s candidate request for a recount was rejected by the RO for P.212 Sibu in accordance with subregulation 25 (13) of R81.

In the Sibu by-election last year, DAP state chairman Wong Ho Leng beat BN’s Robert Lau of SUPP.