Any “Doubting Thomas” who thinks that Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim cannot lawfully contest in the Port Dickson by election should take a holiday.
This was Former Federal Court Judge Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram’s polite advice to Anwar’s detractors.
Gopal said that the path for Anwar to return to Parliament was finally clear as the PKR incoming president was given a “free pardon” under the Federal Constitution which is equivalent to a clean slate.
“Of course, because he received a free pardon by the Agong (Sultan Muhammad V). A free pardon wipes out the conviction and the sentence.”
“(It is) absolutely (clear) and there is no doubt. Any doubting Thomas should take a holiday,” he said in a phone conversation with the New Straits Times Press, today, elaborating on the full pardon reportedly given by the Agong which in legal terms is defined as a “free pardon.”
Gopal said this while dismissing that Anwar was found guilty of sodomy and remains guilty of the crime.
He further expressed that it was smooth running for Anwar until the polls as nominations have closed and the Election Commission will no longer entertain objections on Anwar’s candidacy.
Gopal who was once part of Anwar’s defence team during the recent sodomy trials, said objections could only be raised in an election petition.
But that he said would have to wait.
“Until he wins and there is a properly filed election petition and properly prepared by a person entitled to file a petition on grounds admissible by the Election Offences Act. Only then the question will arise.”
“But the path is smooth for him until he is elected and someone challenges the election on an election petition, which is properly cast. There are many ifs,” said Gopal while arguing the theoretical nature of the disagreement.
Lawyer-activist Siti Kasim who has been one of Anwar’s fiercest critics on the Port Dickson move and UMNO Titiwangsa division leader Datuk Nazir Hussin Akhtar Hussin had previously questioned the legitimacy of Anwar’s candidacy.
An online portal however quoted her as having received a clarification from Attorney-General Tommy Thomas stating that Anwar is eligible to stand in the by-election.
Thomas explained in a letter to Siti that the Pardons Board advised that a full pardon be considered for the former deputy prime minister. The Yang di-Pertuan Agong then granted Anwar the full pardon.
“Accordingly, by virtue of Article 48(1)(e) of the Federal Constitution, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is not disqualified from standing as a candidate for the forthcoming by-election for the Port Dickson constituency,” Siti reportedly said.
In the clause it states that a person who was been convicted of an offence by a court of law in the Federation and sentenced to imprisonment for a term of not less than one year or to a fine of not less than RM2,000 and has not received a free pardon is disqualified from being a member of the house of parliament.
Anwar’s ex-lawyer N. Surendran also stated that the former could contest by virtue of the free pardon clause. He however declined to comment further as he had previously represented Anwar.
The Port Dickson seat was vacated a few weeks ago when sitting member of parliament Datuk Danyal Rajagopal Abdullah stepped down for Anwar.
The move was meant to pave the way for the former Deputy Prime Minister’s comeback to parliament.