KOTA KINABALU, Nov 5 — Datuk Peter Anthony, president of the fledgling Parti Kesejahteraan Demokratik Masyarakat (PKDM), has been barred by the Election Commission (EC) from contesting as a candidate in year’s general election in an incident that sparked furious protests from his supporters.
The Tenom hopeful was told that he was disqualified from running for the Sabah interior parliamentary seat after going through a vetting process due to a previous conviction.
“As a dominant party with winning potential, there will always be something.
“Whatever it is, don’t let this get us down. Stay calm and keep your spirits up,” he told his supporters outside the Tenom nomination centre this afternoon, after a riot broke out earlier that forced police personnel to fire tear gas canisters to disperse the unruly protesters.
Police are expected to issue a statement on the incident later.
Peter, whose party is contesting seven other parliamentary seats in Sabah, said his nomination was rejected late during the application process.
“At first everything was going smoothly. At 9am and 10am, there were no problems. I even drew the candidate number 1, but then as we were about to leave there was instruction from KL to reject my application,” the Melalap assemblyman told his supporters.
Peter, a former Sabah infrastructure development minister, was found guilty of forging a letter in 2014 from the office of the Universiti Malaysia Sabah deputy vice-chancellor for a system maintenance contract work.
The Sessions Court in Kuala Lumpur sentenced him to a three-year jail term and RM50,000 fine back in August.
Peter has applied for a stay of execution on the jail term, but paid the fine.
Under Article 48(4) of the Federal Constitution, convicts who have been sentenced to a jail term of more than one year or a fine of not less than RM2,000 and has not received a free pardon, are disqualified from public office.
At a press conference later, he reiterated that the objection was not from the returning officer, whom he claimed had received and approved his supporting documents, and was about to announce the candidates when a call came from the commission’s headquarters.
“We told them that the objection period had already passed. Why at the last minute – almost noon – was there only an objection? They said that the state EC was not objecting but the problem was at the HQ level,” he said.
Peter said he would file a police report and take legal action to determine if he had the right to contest.
“We won’t give up or stop here. I will ask the court to decide whether or not I am qualified to stand,” he said.
He also thanked his supporters for their backing, even though some had rioted over his rejection.
“I also apologise for the inconvenience and trouble during the nomination process,” he said.
Sabah police commissioner Datuk Idris Abdullah also held a press conference later to clarify the sequence of events, and said no arrests were made.
He did not touch on the use of tear gas to break up the riot, but confirmed that supporters had tried to swarm the nomination centre after Peter’s rejection.
Chief Minister Datuk Hajiji Noor has criticised the incident today, and asked all parties not to be emotional over events.
“Please ensure people stay calm to ensure smooth running of the process,” he said, before asking authorities to look into the cause of the incident.