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Umno members unhappy with no-contest motion can call emergency assembly, says lawyer

Rafique Rashid says this is one option for Umno members who want their voices to be heard.

Ahmad Mustakim Zulkifli & Nur Hasliza Mohd Salleh
2 minute read
Umno delegates attend the party's 2022 general assembly at the World Trade Centre in Kuala Lumpur, Jan 11.
Umno delegates attend the party's 2022 general assembly at the World Trade Centre in Kuala Lumpur, Jan 11.

A lawyer recommends that Umno members and leaders who are dissatisfied with the motion passed at the recent general assembly to stop any challenge to the top two posts at the party election hold an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) to discuss the matter. 

Speaking to MalaysiaNow, Rafique Rashid said any party member could file an emergency motion for an assembly, subject to the conditions of the Umno constitution. 

"This is one option from the legal point of view," he added. 

The decision at the 2022 Umno general assembly last weekend to allow the top posts to go uncontested triggered criticism by some including former youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin and vice-president Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

It came on the back of Umno's worst election defeat ever, weeks after party president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi spearheaded a move to abandon the party's policy of not working with Pakatan Harapan and its chairman Anwar Ibrahim.

Ismail had said that the decision was worrying, and that the matter could be determined by the Registrar of Societies. 

Section 18(c) of the Societies Act 1966 however states that party decisions are final and cannot be challenged, even in court. 

It is also known as an "ouster clause", which is a clause to remove the power of the court from reviewing or vetoing the decision of a body or organisation. 

In 2018, a group of 16 Umno members attempted but failed to challenge it in court. 

They had attempted to challenge the party's legitimacy after being accused of violating the Umno constitution. 

This followed Umno's failure to hold elections at the branch, division and Supreme Council levels within the stipulated time frame. 

A three-man bench unanimously ruled that there was no reason to interfere with the previous decision of the High Court. 

"Section 18(c) of the Societies Act states that decisions involving parties are final and cannot be challenged, appealed against or questioned in court," they said. 

Rafique said that organisations could conduct their business if they did so without violating the Societies Act or the Federal Constitution.

"It's not wrong," he added, referring to the motion allowing the top two posts to go uncontested. 

"If members want their voices to be heard, then they will have to file an emergency motion. But it depends on them. They are the ones who will have to do it." 
The Umno election must be held by mid-May. 

Political analyst Ahmad Zaharudin Sani Sabri said the decision to withhold contest for the top two posts would need confirmation from the RoS. 

"Why are other posts being contested?" he added. "We need to wait for a decision by the RoS on whether this can be done." 

Zaharudin also said that if the grassroots felt the present leadership was enough to ensure the party's stability, Zahid and his deputy Mohamad Hasan would still win even if their posts were opened to challenge. 

"What is the impact of allowing no contest?" he said. "The grassroots will feel that those at the top will never change. This in turn would mean a negative chronology for the party."