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Art harun on burden of proof

14 Comments

This is to set out the parameters of the law. People need to understand what the law is and how is it compared with the commonwealth jurisdiction. There’s too much rubbish being written.

Before that I want to congratulate both bn and pr for filing their grievances in courts. Now we can analyse the evidence being brought forward.

From Art Harun, via e-mail

I refer to the FMT report, ‘Impossible To Win Election Petition’. I have written before on the standard of proof in election petitions. Thus I will not comment on YB Rafizi’s statement on the same subject. I wish to however address two issues.

Firstly, allow me to state the reason for the high standard of proof which is required to win an election petition. To understand the reason for the standard of proof, we need to know – and understand – the basic premise of an election petition.

The premise of an election petition is an electoral result which is being challenged.

To put it simply, there has been an election. And there is a result of that election. That result is born out of a democratic process which takes the form of an election. That result therefore represents the WILL OF THE MAJORITY as expressed through the election process. The candidate which is preferred by the majority is therefore declared the winner in the election.

Now, what is being challenged in an election petition is actually the will of the majority expressed in the election. Being so, in order to sustain that challenge, sufficient reasons must be shown to unseat the will of the majority. Those reasons proffered by the challenger must thus satisfy a high legal burden. Otherwise, the will of the majority could easily be defeated in the Election Court. That would make a mockery of democracy.

Take this scenario as an example.

Candidate A won an election by 3,000 votes. Candidate B files an election petition showing that 300 voters had managed to wash off their so-called indelible ink immediately after voting. Videos of a bus full of people who looked like Bangladeshis parking itself at the voting centre were also produced.

Here, it is not sufficient for candidate B to just show those evidences. He must demonstrate how those things affect the result of the election. In respect of the 300 voters who washed off the ink, it must be shown that they had, in addition to washing off the ink, managed to vote twice. In relation to the bus, it must be shown that those people were indeed foreigners who were not entitle to vote and they did vote.

If the laws were to permit the result to be vitiated just by showing 300 people had washed off the ink and a bus full of Bangladeshis was parked at the voting centre with nothing more, what that would mean is that the will of the majority could be over-ridden and set aside by the minority. That would be undemocratic. I am sure in such event – of that happens to a Pakatan Rakyat’s candidate – the PR would be complaining of how undemocratic the laws are!

In the above scenario, any complain in respect of the procedural non-compliance must therefore be supported with evidence that at least 1,500 votes were affected by the non-compliance. If that is done, then candidate A could not and should not have been the winner. Therefore, the result would be vitiated and another election must be called.

That is how it works.

The second issue which I would like to deal with is this.

The aforesaid report in FMT goes on to say:

“On that note, the Pandan MP said that the electoral laws in Malaysia are skewed to allow and tolerate discrepancies, unless it hits a criticial level that can alter the election results.”

I do not know as a fact whether YB Rafizi did say that. On the assumption that he did say that, I would like to respond to that statement.

It is NOT CORRECT and NOT TRUE that electoral laws in Malaysia are “skewed” to allow and tolerate discrepancies.

Our election rules are mainly contained in an Act called the Election Offences Act 1954. This Act is mainly based on the Common Law principles and the provisions of the United Kingdom’s Representation of the People Act 1948 (which later became the Representation of the People Act 1983). The provisions of our laws are not only similar to the UK provisions but also to the Indian provisions.

So, our electoral laws are not peculiar to us. In hearing election petitions, our Election Courts are normally referred to authorities and judicial precedents from the UK and Indian Courts. Sometimes we refer even to the Canadian and Australian cases. If our laws are said to be skewed to tolerate discrepancies, then the UK and Indian laws are also skewed as such!

In a report dated Dec 11, 2012 by a Law Commission in the UK, consisting of eminent jurists, namely, The Rt Hon Lord Justice Lloyd Jones (Chairman), Professor Elizabeth Cooke, Mr David Hertzell, Professor David Ormerod and Frances Patterson QC, the Commission among others, states:

“In our consultation paper we summarised the jurisdiction of the parliamentary election court as:

i. reviewing the votes in a scrutiny, potentially declaring another candidate elected as the person having the most lawful votes; or

ii. examining the validity of the election, potentially resulting in an MP being unseated and a new election being called. Here, we distinguished between:

(a) invalidity for breaches of the rules by electoral administrators;

(b) a successful candidate’s corrupt or illegal practice; and

(c) a successful candidate’s disqualification from office.”

That is precisely what our Election Courts are empowered to do too. Section 32 of our Act says:

“32. The election of a candidate at any election shall be declared to be void on an election petition on any of the following grounds only which may be proved to the satisfaction of the Election Judge:

(a) that general bribery, general treating or general intimidation have so extensively prevailed that they may be reasonably supposed to have affected the result of the election;

(b) non-compliance with the provisions of any written law relating to the conduct of any election if it appears that the election was not conducted in accordance with the principles laid down in such written law and that such non-compliance affected the result of the election;

(c) that a corrupt practice or illegal practice was committed in connection with the election by the candidate or with his knowledge or consent, or by any agent of the candidate;

(d) that the candidate personally engaged a person as his election agent, or as a canvasser or agent, knowing that such person had within seven years previous to such engagement been convicted or found guilty of a corrupt practice by a Sessions Court, or by the report of an Election Judge; or

(e) that the candidate was at the time of his election a person disqualified for election.”

As we can see, the provisions are identical. (The power of “scrutiny”, ie, to recount votes is contained in section 50 of our Act.)

The Law Commission further states:

“Administrative breaches

How a breach of a rule pertaining to administration of the poll should affect its validity involves a balancing act between giving teeth to the rules and achieving a certainty in electoral outcomes. The law has therefore placed some restraints on the consequences of breach. As our consultation paper explained, a challenge based on ground 2(a) above is essentially founded on the breach causally affecting the outcome of the election. In contrast, a candidate’s corrupt or illegal practice or disqualification vitiates the validity of the election irrespective of the effect on the result.

The law’s restraint is judicial in origin. Section 23(3) of the 1983 Act states that no UK Parliamentary election shall be declared invalid if it appears that: (a) the election was so conducted as to be substantially in accordance with the law as to elections; and (b) the act or omission did not affect the result.

Considering identical provision in the Representation of the People Act 1949, Lord Denning MR in Morgan v Simpson re-stated its wording in positive form; a breach of the rules must affect the outcome of the election in order to result in its nullity. An election will be held not to have been conducted substantially in accordance with the law as to elections if there was a “substantial departure” such as to make “the ordinary man condemn the election as a sham or a travesty of an election by ballot”. The bar was thus set very high for an administrative breach to invalidate an election irrespective of its impact on the result.”

Again, that is PRECISELY the position in Malaysia. In respect of procedural non-compliance, we need to prove that such non-compliance must affect the result or outcome of the election. Please see section 32 (b) as reproduced above.

In so far as corrupt or illegal practices are concerned, these are divided into two categories:

a) where the corrupt and illegal practices were committed by the candidate himself or his agent, or with his knowledge or consent, the result is automatically vitiated regardless of whether such acts affect the result or not. (section 32 (c)).

b) where the corrupt and illegal practices have so extensively prevailed, the result would only be vitiated if they may be reasonably supposed to have affected the result of the election. Here, we do not have to show that the acts were done by the candidate, his agent or with his knowledge or consent.

What is being emphasised under sub-paragraph (b) above however is “reasonableness.” The question is, after looking at the totality of the evidence, is it reasonable for the Court to suppose that the result has been affected by the acts.

In respect of non-compliance of the rules or procedures, the question, as Lord Denning puts it in Morgan v Simpson:

Was there “substantial departure” such as to make “the ordinary man condemn the election as a sham or a travesty of an election by ballot”. The bar was thus set very high for an administrative breach to invalidate an election irrespective of its impact on the result.”

That IS the position in England and that IS the position here.

Our election laws are not skewed to tolerate discrepancies. Our laws are based on the English laws as well as other respected jurisdiction within the Commonwealth.

In fact I dare say that our election laws are even better than the English laws. That is because here, we have an automatic right to appeal against any decision of the Election Court to the Federal Court (where at least 3 Judges will sit). In England, the decision of the Election Court is not appealable. A judicial review may however be asked for. But that is not automatic as judicial review may only be invoked if the High Court grants leave to do so.

When our laws place a high burden on us and do not always work in our favour or do not support our cases, it does not speak well for us to say that our laws are skewed.

Now, numerous election petitions are filed. Pakatan Rakyat is challenging many election results where the Barisan candidates had won. Conversely, Barisan Nasional is also challenging many results where the PR candidates had won.

I will bet my last dime that the Pakatan Rakyat lawyers will argue the same thing as the Barisan Nasional lawyers’ would in defending the results of the election which favour the PR candidate. In other words, all the above arguments which I have set out, will also be used by PR to defend the result of the election where the PR candidate had won.

Now, doesn’t that give new meaning to “fair is foul and foul is fair?”

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14 thoughts on “Art harun on burden of proof

  1. It is true that fruad may not have been decisive in some seats. However, fraud is still a crime, and should be investigated. Who perpetuates electoral fraud? It requires resources and time – things available only to the government of the day.

    If you are comfortable with a bunch of crooks and liars in power, you should say so. I am not.

  2. Beyond my own anecdotal evidence (washable indelible ink, suspicious flight manifests between East Malaysia and the Peninsula, strangely high turnouts in some seats) I have nothing legal of course. I leave it to the courts to decide, since others have devoted far more time to gathering their evidence.

    Both Art Harun and you miss the point. You say that the burden of proof such that a result is to be overturned is that any fraud perpetrated must have had sufficient effect to sway the election result. I agree. However, if fraud occurred (and I’m quite convinced that it did) then it is still a crime. I don’t see any of that referenced in your post. That’s why, for all its factual correctness (mostly) it is still UMNO apologetics.

    • You are really nauseating. Your anecdotal examples can hardly tantamount to fraud by any criminal standard in the world including some rubbish third world country. Like indelible ink, how in the world are you going to prove fraud? You can show it not working effectively. But incompetence bukan fraud lah. You must show intent to defraud with benefit at least.

      Goodness. You don’t even know what tantamount to fraud. I made a big mistake thinking you’re more than a blind unthinking partisan supporter.

      What’s wrong with you? Why are you so lazy to google and read? Pr accuses all this as tantamount to fraud affecting even legitimacy. Why do you think people cannot see that this pr and your claim is a false defamatory claim to unseat illegally and undemocratically an elected government. People like you guys always condemn kampung folks as stupid for supporting bn but you’re worse.

      Why can’t you use your brain? Be decent. Use reasonable argument. Don’t apply selectively. On one hand you ask for me evidence but what you have can hardly tantamount to an evidence for what you allege. From day one you should know indelible ink argument itself cannot be fraud. Its a perpetuation of falsehood and lies. Think will you.

      • Again, you confuse two separate issues. The fact (and I agree that it probably is a fact) that whatever fraud occurred is not enough to unseat BN and overturn the result of the election, does not excuse the fact that fraud very likely occurred. Much of the question marks merit criminal investigation at the very least. This is not happening. It is wrong.

        On indelible ink, yes, you are right, it could be incompetence or stupidity. But that is the very best thing that you can say of the EC. The head should be sacked for uselessness. And there must be an investigation on whether said incompetence or stupidity resulted in fraud. I don’t see this happening, and I certainly don’t believe the current head of the EC – on anything – if he can get something as basic as buying the right ink and writing the correct instructions on its use wrong.

        • You’re employing the same tactic as the racist argument. Hello!! You’re the one alleging fraud and claiming its a crime. Tell us lah what constitute fraud to you and the onus of proof required. Then tell us in your infinite wisdom which act constitutes fraud. You can’t isnt it and just parroting propagandas.

          We all know you’re racist and chauvinistic. Now a confirmed putar Alam. Have you no shame and values left? Are you a paid DAP cybertrooper? No need to answer. Your defence of racism speaks volume of your abominable values.

  3. Fraud is a crime. That’s why people make police reports.

    • Divert lagi. Just like justifying racism based on superiority culture. Define fraud. People make police report on indelible ink. How does this tantamount to fraud? Don’t be stupid. Lodging does not mean fraud. What’s your definition and burden of prove? Don’t deviate.

      • Are you seriously stating that fraud is not a crime? You make a police report because you think a crime has been committed. The police are bound to investigate – at least they would be if they were doing their job – or tell you that no crime has been committed and they then would not accept the report.

        In a society where justice exists, we would not need to produce proof in criminal law proceedings, because that is the job of law enforcement. Both you and Art Harun are blind to this, which is I find incredible.

        • You don’t even know what fraud means. You’re like most blind unthinking supporters. Tell me how a black out can even tantamount to fraud? Go and read. Don’t plead ignorance of the law.

          • The point is that these things are suggestive of fraud. Fraud could have occurred. Emphasis on the ‘could’. That’s why an investigation is needed.

            As a citizen if you think you see a crime in progress, you report it to the police. They should then investigate. You don’t need to do the investigation yourself. But there is no investigation that I can see.

            Perhaps in your world citizens need to do their own investigation of crimes in order to get justice. in mine, justice should be provided by the state to serve the people. Basic civics.

          • Why are you not using JW Tan? Please only use one name.

          • You’re insulting everyone’s intelligence. Don’t divert, tell us your definition of fraud. Tell us how blackout can tantamount to fraud? Some of the allegation is outlandishly stupid. It can never tantamount to fraud.

            Anyway the way you argue defending racism show you have a skewered mindset. Your style of diverting questions time and time again shows your dishonesty. Have you no shame and moral compunction? I’m beginning to think you’re the type who complain of corruption but have no qualm in giving bribes. Prove me wrong. Be upfront and consistent. Argue honestly. Have integrity.

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