Deregistration: No way, Hisham!

by Nicole Tan Lee Koon

I would like to comment on Hishamuddin’s statement on the 16th of Feb, 2013 that the Registrar Of Societies can investigate DAP and DAP run the risk of being deregistered just like UMNO in 1987. (http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/bahasa/article/ros-boleh-mula-siasat-dap-kata-hishamuddin/)

In his haste to finish DAP off, Hishamuddin made a huge blunder by jumping the gun. His motive was manifested ever so clearly.

The 60 days period that he mentioned can be found in Section 14 of the Societies Act 1966. Section 14 stipulates that every registered society shall forward to the Registrar inter alia, copies of AGM minutes; attendance; amendments to rules (if any); list of office bearers; address of the society; accounts within 60 days after the holding of its annual general meeting.

For those who are familiar, it is actually the filing of Borang 9 returns. DAP has filed the necessary returns in accordance to Section 14 as confirmed by  DAP NS State Chairman and also National Organising Secretary , Anthony Loke Siew Fook in response to Hishamuddin’s press statement on the same day.

Hishamuddin doesnt know his law

What Hishamuddin meant was probably Section 16 which stipulates that if the Registrar is of the opinion that a dispute has occurred among the members as a result of which the Registrar is not satisfied of the identity of the persons who have been properly constituted as office-bearers of the society.

The Registrar may serve notice on the society requiring the society, within one month of the service of such notice, to produce to him evidence of the proper appointment of the lawful office-bearers of the society and if any such notice is not complied with to the satisfaction of the Registrar within the period of one month, the Registrar may take steps to cancel the registration of the society.

What the ROS should have done was to issue the notice pursuant to Section 16, which the ROS did not do so. In my opinion, even if the notice was issued, DAP does not run the risk of being de-registered as follows.

Firstly, pursuant to Section 16, we can produce evidence of the proper appointment of the lawful office bearers i.e the internal and external auditors’ reports which clearly states that the manual counting and results were proper and valid. However, there was a “copy and paste” error when the results were transcribed to the computer. The mistake was then rectified.

Secondly, under Sections 18A-18C (provisions applicable to political parties only), where there is any inconsistency between Sections 18A-18C and any provisions in the Act, Sections 18A-18C shall prevail.

Section 18C stipulates that the decision of a political party on any matter relating to the affairs of the party shall be final and conclusive and such decision shall not be challenged, appealed against, reviewed, quashed or called in question in any court on any ground, and no court shall have jurisdiction to entertain or determine any suit, application, question or proceeding on any ground regarding the validity of such decision.

I repeat emphatically that the decision of a political party on any matter shall be final and conclusive. What more having been vindicated by the external auditor’s report.

History is not repeating itself

When UMNO was deregistered in 1987, they wanted to ensure that history does not repeat itself and hence enacted Section 18C.  Chedet pre-empted any moves by political opponents to de-register a political party back in 1987 (but Section 18C only took effect in 1990). Therefore, Hishamuddin is wrong to say that DAP situation is the same as the time UMNO was deregistered. Karmic ?

Further, the Court in the case of Pendaftar Pertubuhan Malaysia v PV Das (Bagi Pihak People’s Progressive Party of Malaysia (PPP)) concluded that under the circumstance the election of the plaintiff as President of PPP and the approval and endorsement of the defendant’s Presidency of the PPP are the decisions of a political party within the meaning of Section 18C of the Act and that the business of electing the president or the approval and endorsement of the president are ‘matters relating to the affairs of the party’.

Therefore, decisions on such matter in the view of the Court are final and conclusive decisions and the court has no jurisdiction to question the validity of such decisions.

Section 18C of the Societies Act makes such disputes matters of internal affairs of the political parties and a non-justiciable political question not fit for judicial determination. The section precludes the courts from exercising jurisdiction in matters relating to the internal affairs of political parties.

De-register DAP ? No way, Hisham. I urge the Home Minister to do some homework before making a press statement which threatens to deregister a formidable rival political party. -The Rocket


* Nicole Tan is DAP Seremban branch Secretary. She tweets at @loyarbaik

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