A slap on the wrist or more?

The government agency has drawn plenty of flak for some questionable decisions in the last three years, notably on opposition or pro-opposition entities.

Published: Wednesday January 7, 2015 MYT 12:19:00 PM
Updated: Wednesday January 7, 2015 MYT 1:08:41 PM

by Akil Yunus

IT has been a busy few years for the Registrar of Societies (RoS), hasn’t it?

The government agency has drawn plenty of flak for some questionable decisions in the last three years, notably on opposition or pro-opposition entities.

It investigated human rights NGO Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) for suspicious business activities in 2012, and last year declared Penang’s voluntary patrol unit as “unlawful”.

More significantly, it was responsible for issuing a letter to DAP on the eve of nomination day for the 13th general election to inform the party that its central executive committee members were not recognised.

Detractors claimed that the RoS’ actions were politically motivated, and it was no surprise that many grew disillusioned with the function of this regulating body.

However, recent events involving another political party has proven that the RoS, which falls under the purview of the Home Ministry, is indeed operating without bias or favour.

Its decision to issue a notice to MIC on Dec 5, instructing them to hold fresh elections within 90 days or face deregistration is a bold move on its part.

By my calculations, MIC has just under 60 days left to re-elect three vice-presidents, 23 central working committee members, and several division leaders if it is to remain intact as a component party of Barisan Nasional, not to mention the only party in the coalition representing the Indian community. Exclusively that is, as multi-racial PPP and Gerakan also have Indian members.

The possibility of deregistration has thus far proven too disastrous to even contemplate, with the party’s top leadership assuring members that they would not allow such an outcome.

They are banking on reaching an agreement with the group of complainants of the election irregularities, while party president Datuk Seri G. Palanivel has also written to the RoS to seek for a time extension to address the issues it raised in the letter.

If the ugly scenes which nearly descended into an outright brawl at the MIC headquarters on Dec 19 are anything to go by, the 68-year-old party is in dire need of some “cleaning up”.

Some quarters are already accusing Palanivel of trying to get the party deregistered, so that he can take his supporters with him and helm a “new MIC”.

That is probably less than true, purely because a deregistration of the current party could have unimaginable consequences for Barisan Nasional as a whole.

Therefore, I have my doubts as to whether the RoS would go so far as to pull the plug on MIC’s survival at the end of the 90-day period.

Some leaders are not convinced of the party’s supposed “immunity” though.

“Even Umno was deregistered before,” said former MIC treasurer-general Senator Datuk Jaspal Singh during a press conference recently.

It’s true. Umno was deregistered in 1988 to be replaced with Umno baru, and was the last political party of such standing to meet such a fate. There will probably not be another.

The reality is that it’s not so easy to get deregistered these days, so to speak. Most active political parties do just enough to avoid falling foul of the Societies Act 1966, while also discovering new ways to circumvent certain rulings under the act.

Hence, while I do believe that MIC desperately needs to sort out the mess it’s in, I do not fear for its survival just yet.

I would be surprised, if at the end of the 90-day period, they received anything more than a slap on the wrist.

SOURCE www.thestar.com.my