In averting a likely deregistration of the party by BN, DAP must not be defeated by the brutality of an oppressive Registrar of Societies(ROS) nor be under any delusion that the ROS still respects the rule of law. DAP leaders will go on a nationwide tour of all states to explain the rationale of the latest decision after the 2008-2011 Central Executive Committee(CEC) meets next Thursday to conduct fresh re-elections.
There is no doubt that the ROS has repeatedly behaved unprofessionally, unethically and even unlawfully by making media announcements that had no factual or legal basis. Instead of all facts and information supplied by the DAP that were verified by an accounting firm, ROS appears to believe the unsubstantiated lies of a non-existent person called Father Augustus Chen, Utusan Malaysia(UM) and New Straits Times(NST) that 753 DAP delegates had been denied their right to attend the DAP Congress in Penang or that there were 547 “phantom” delegates attending the Congress.
The bitter and painful decision made by party leaders in an emergency meeting of the 2012-15 Central Executive Committee(CEC) on Wednesday night to hold re-elections was solely to prevent ROS from being given another opportunity to abuse their powers by deregistering the party. There are many examples of the ROS abusing its powers in the past and practicing double standards, including their recent inaction over the 2011 SUPP party elections in contrast to their unlawful and quick interference in the 2012 party elections.
The announcement by the Home Minister Datuk Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, before the ROS had even informed the DAP, that the DAP has been directed to hold fresh re-elections is a clear indication that the ROS is neither an independent nor an impartial authority but acting solely under the political dictates of BN. Further, the DAP’s repeated requests to the Registrar of Societies to be supplied with the complaints made against the party have been futile.
Finally the shocking refusal of the ROS to even see me in my capacity as DAP Secretary-General that was communicated to DAP National Organising Secretary Anthony Loke on Wednesday 14.8.2013 is not only unprofessional but proves its oppressive, repressive and suppressive intent against the DAP. DAP leaders can not be passive but must be pro-active in face of such overt hostility and mala fide intent towards the DAP.
Clearly there is a legal recourse for the DAP to seek a judicial review against the ROS’ decision that is clearly unlawful as it contravenes 18A, 18B and 18C of the 1966 Societies Act. However in the face of such openly hostile attitude of the ROS that is clearly oppressive, repressive and suppressive, there were genuine concerns expressed by top leaders that filing a judicial review may trigger further action by the ROS in the form of deregistration of the party.
There is no doubt that such a de-registration of the party by ROS would also be unlawful. However, deregistration is a risk that the party just can not take for taking the ROS to court. Even when DAP wins in court against the unlawful directive to the party to hold re-elections, the party would have to go to court again to fight a possible deregistration of the party. Despite the likely outcome of winning again in court against de-registration, the legal process and time taken of months and even years will put any political party that has been deregistered by ROS in limbo, which will not only be impractical but will threaten the party’s very survival and growth.
BN has been seeking revenge against the DAP since DAP historic victories in the 13th General Elections by winning its largest ever number of 38 Parliamentary and 107 state seats nation-wide as well as contributing towards PR winning the popular vote of 51% and pushing BN to be a minority party. As a minority government, BN has shown that it has no qualms and hesitation in either acting unlawfully or practicing double-standards.
For this reason, despite the strong legal position of the DAP that the directive of the Registrar of Societies that the party holds fresh CEC elections in that that directive does not have the sanctity or authority of law, the DAP has no choice but to forestall any possible future action by the ROS of further abusing its powers by de-registering the party.
This decision is painful when the CEC election in December 2012 last year was properly and cleanly conducted except for a computer glitch caused the wrong announcement of the successful candidates. DAP had immediately rectified it and even got an accounting firm to verify the corrected results. There was no mistake either in vote counting or tabulation but only in posting the results, leading to one candidate Vincent Wu wrongly announced as a successful candidate when it should be Zairil Khir Johari.
This mistake had been duly rectified by reinstating Zairil Khir Johari as the winning candidate. DAP had fully explained this honest mistake to the officials from the Registrar of Societies by furnishing all relevant materials. The mistake was admitted voluntarily by DAP without being exposed by ROS or BN in the interests of upholding transparency and accountability. DAP is now being punished for being honest and truthful.
ROS wants to make winter out of spring of justice, democracy, freedom and hope offered by the DAP. DAP leaders have taken the difficult, painful and unpalatable decision to face the reality of the brutality of ROS abuses of power and refused to be deluded by any hope that the ROS still respects the rule of law. For this reason, DAP is compelled to follow the ROS directive to hold re-elections to force the spring to continue.
- LIM GUAN ENG