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Home minister must explain why he exempted Umno from deregistration


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Aliran is concerned that Home Minister Saifuddin Nasution Ismail has used his discretion under Section 70 of the Societies Act to exempt Umno from a law that could have resulted in the party being deregistered after it barred contests for the party’s top two posts.

Whilst he is empowered to do so, Saifuddin has to be transparent about the reasons for the exemption. This is because the public impression is that the exemption from elections for the top two posts is an attempt to safeguard the positions of Umno president Zahid Hamidi and his deputy Mohamad Hasan.

What is also disturbing is an apparent conflict of interest: the exemption is being seen as an attempt to consolidate the Umno leaders’ positions, which in turn would help ensure the sustainability of the “unity government” that Saifuddin is part of.

We call upon Saifuddin to clearly explain why he vetoed the original decision of the Registrar of Societies, who had apparently instructed Umno to rescind the no-contest decision.

In the interest of democracy, it is important to repeal legal provisions that allow for such discretionary powers. And in the interest of good governance, as often touted by Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, Aliran hopes the government will lead the way by upholding transparency and accountability in the way it functions.

Aliran executive committee
8 March 2023

The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

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Stephen Tan Ban Cheng
Stephen Tan Ban Cheng
8 Mar 2023 11.52pm

It will be interesting to see how the Court will decide after arguments arise in litigation.

The discretionary power is almost always never fettered, but the usage of the “shall” is a fetter in Paragraph 2 of Schedule 1 of the Act, viz.:

2. Where a society is a political party, the constitution or rules thereof shall, in matters enumerated in paragraph 1, provide that –

(b) every member shall have the right to vote and shall be eligible to hold office in the committee or governing body in the society.

Statutory interpretation is an interesting animal. It may well be construed that 2(b) of the 2nd paragraph of Schedule 1 DOES NOT apply!

Gursharan Singh
Gursharan Singh
8 Mar 2023 8.50pm

With some UMNO Leaders holding high power positions in current Government would anyone have courage to deregistet?
Bless all

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