PETALING JAYA: The election in Padang Serai should continue as planned as polling is deemed to have started with the early polling which took place on Tuesday, says constitutional expert Emeritus Prof Datuk Dr Shad Saleem Faruqi.

He said that under the Elections Act 1958, if a candidate dies before polling day, the election in that constituency should be suspended.

“Sadly, the law is confusing. Polling has commenced and that is why the election will continue. If polling had not commenced, the election would be postponed,” Prof Shad Saleem said when contacted.

Pakatan Harapan candidate for the Padang Serai parliamentary seat M. Karupaiya, 69, passed away on Wednesday, raising the question of whether polling for the constituency would be postponed.

However, a check with the Election Commission’s MySPR Semak portal by voters in the constituency showed a message that the election has been postponed.

“I checked the website and it said: ‘The 15th general election for P017 Padang Serai has been postponed because of the death of a candidate,” said a voter.

In GE14, Karupaiya won the seat with a majority of 8,813 votes, defeating PAS candidate Muhamad Sobri Osman and Barisan’s Datuk Dr Leong Yong Kong.

Under the Elections Act No (6), if an election has been announced and one of the candidates nominated dies or becomes disqualified before the polling had commenced, the Election Commission (EC) can suspend the election in that constituency to enable the affected party to file a fresh nomination.

However, as early polling is considered polling too, a source close to EC stated that it was likely that the Padang Serai election would continue with Karupaiya’s name on the ballot paper on polling day.

“Only after the election results, will EC have to decide whether to call for a by-election,” said the source.

The EC issued a statement on Wednesday that it would be holding a special meeting on the situation in Padang Serai today.

Separately, Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said said the Padang Serai election could continue tomorrow without a new date having to be set.The Barisan democracy and law task force head cited Regulation 11 (6) of the Election (Conduct of Elections) Regulations 1981, which states that the EC can only appoint a fresh date before the polls have commenced, whether by early voting or by election day itself.

She pointed out that early voting had commenced on Nov 7 and Nov 15 for the police and the armed forces as well as their spouses.

“This has rendered the call for postponement of the election for Padang Serai improbable,” she said.