PETALING JAYA: PKR risks being de-registered by the Registrar of Societies (ROS) if party supremo Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim continues to contest for the party presidency, said constitutional lawyer Edmund Bon on Monday.
According to Bon, a person could not contest to be an office bearer in a society if the person is convicted of an offence.
"Anwar shouldn't contest. So when they (PKR) submit his name as party president to the ROS, it may lead to a dispute that may cause the deregistration of the party," said Bon, adding that such a move by Anwar was "illegal" under the Societies Act 1966.
Similar views were shared by another constitutional lawyer, New Sin Yew, who pointed out that Section 9A(1)(b) of the Societies Act made it illegal for someone with a conviction to contest or hold office in a society.
"Section 9A(1)(b) of the Societies Act says a person shall be disqualified from being, and shall not become or remain an office-bearer of a registered society if he has been convicted of any offence under any other law and sentenced to a fine of RM2,000 or imprisonment of not less than one year," said New.
He added that the provision in Section 9(A)(1)(b) was exactly the same as the disqualification clause for a Member of Parliament under Article 48 of the Federal Constitution - with one key difference.
"Under Article 48, you're only disqualified if your sentence still remains after you've disposed of all your appeals. Until then, your status as a Member of Parliament is still intact," said New.
He pointed out that such a clause was not present in the Societies Act.
"The Societies Act allows for the Registrar to grant exempt someone from disqualification but this is not automatic, and as of right. By contesting, there is a risk that the Registrar may cancel the registration of PKR under Section 13(1)(iv) of the Societies Act for willfully contravening the provision of the Societies Act," said New.
He said that Anwar might also face a fine and a jail sentence if he continued to run for the PKR top office.
"To prevent this, he should withdraw now. Also, he further risks himself to be prosecuted of an offence under Section 9A(6) which if convicted, can be sentenced to imprisonment not exceeding three years, or a fine not exceeding 10,000 or both," said New.
However, PKR lawyer Radzlan Jalaludin said that Anwar could still contest based on provisions under Section 9(4) of the Societies Act.
Under Section 9(4), the Registrar of Societies may grant a disqualified person exemption from their disqualification, provided an application is submitted to the Registrar.
"There is still room for Anwar to be nominated and elected, provided the exemption is given by the Registrar," said Radzlan. When asked if Anwar had filed such an application, Radzlan said he had no knowledge on this.