Exercising his constitutional right to justice at the Tapah vote counting centre proved to be disastrous for PKR parliamentary candidate K Vasantha Kumar.

He was pushed out of the Tapah constituency counting centre, the Dewan Merdeka in the town, by members of the police Light Strike Force at 11pm on Sunday.

NONEVasantha Kumar said eight policemen pushed him out after he queried Election Commission (EC) officers on what he calimed were irregularities as there were mixed votes in ballot boxes and missing ballot boxes. The missing boxes had not arrived at the counting centre as at 11pm.

The postal votes had allegedly been combined with the parliamentary and state constituency ballot papers in the mixed ballot boxes.

NONE“I requested a recount because the parliamentary and state ballot papers were mixed up in one parliament ballot box. Further, there were ballot papers placed outside the box.

“I made the request also because four boxes from Chenderiang and five boxes from Ayer Kuning were not in the counting hall at the Dewan Merdaka. Following the request, EC officers brought in two boxes from Ayer Kuning. The other seven boxes had still not arrived.

NONE“At the same time, I requested the 91 Form 14s from the 91 polling centres and an EC officerl refused, Vasantha Kumar told Malaysiakini. “Some of the Form 14s were not properly signed and endorsed by the EC officers.

 “It was at this point that Barisan Nasional’s candidate, M Saravanan, came into the centre and raised his voice and ‘threatened’ me.

“I told him to not interfere as this was a dispute between me and the EC. The dispute was over the ballot papers from the state seats of Chenderiang and Ayer Kuning. 

“At that point the results for the Perak state seats were 29 for BN and 28 for Pakatan. I insisted on the recount because the results from these two seats would be the deciding factor in the formation of the next Perak government.

NONE“When I insisted that these documents be produced before the announcement of the results, the returning officer instructed the olice to push my polling agents and me out of the hall.”

At this juncture, Vasantha Kumar said, “Saravanan threw a chair at me while I was being pushed out.”

“I was shocked when the police manhandled me, pushing me 50m out of the centre, while Saravanan and his assistant tried to attack me. However, the police stopped them.”

Vasantha Kumar claimed that he and his counting agents were pushed out by the police all the way to the main road outside the hall.

‘No representative to monitor ballot boxes’

“The policemen then barricaded the counting hall and did not allow me to go in. At that time I had no representative inside in the hall to esnure that the ballot boxes were not tampered with.”

NONEHe alleged that during this time, Saravanan and the two BN candidates for the two state seats (Chenderiang and Ayer Kuning) were allowed to be inside the hall as the results were being finalised.

Vasantha Kumar said the EC officers directed the policemen to keep him outside the hall for about an hour.

“After an hour I demanded that as the official candidate for Tapah, I should be allowed into the hall.”

NONEUpon his re-entry into the hall, Vasantha Kumar walked straight to the returning officer and requested the verification of the 91 Form 14s from all the 91 polling centres and a recount of the ballot papers.

“The returning officer declined my request. He told me to take any dispute on the matter to the courts.

“I disagreed with the results they were about to announce as the Form 14s were not furnished and there was no proper recount of the postal votes and ballot papers. Shortly afterward, about 1am, the results were announced - that BN’s Saravanan and its two state assembly candidates had won.”

These two state assembly results clinched BN’s victory in the Perak state assembly, with 31 seats over Pakatan’s 28.

Vasantha Kumar lodged a report at the Tapah police station at 1.30am yesterday.

He said that he was willing to appear before any tribunal and provide his evidence, with video recordings and pictures of the high-handed actions on the part of the authorities.

When contacted and asked about the presence of police in the counting hall, returning officer Razali Bakar said he could not make any statement without referring to the higher authorities.-malaysiakini