Elegant Advisory case: Poll rules flouted

Malaysiakini: Aug 12, 08

Regardless of whether it was Umno or Barisan Nasional which owes Elegant Advisory the sum of RM218 million for campaign materials used in the 2004 polls, both parties may have busted spending limits set by the Elections Commission.
According to Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, under Section 19 of the Election Offences Act 1954, a candidate cannot spend more than RM200,000 to contest a parliamentary seat and RM100,000 to contest a state seat.
As such, the total amount spent during the 2004 elections far exceeded the limits allowed under election laws, he said in statement.
“With 219 parliamentary seats and 505 state seats contested in the 2004 general elections, this means that a party like BN that contested all seats cannot spend more than RM94.3 million or else BN’s victories are illegal,” said Lim, who is also DAP secretary-general.
“With RM218 million spent whether by BN or Umno on campaign materials alone, this is more than double the legally permitted amount,” he added.
Under Section 27 of the Elections Offences Act 1954, spending above permitted limits is illegal.
Candidates who break the rules can be fined RM5,000 by the Sessions Court, be disqualified from holding office as wakil rakyat and even have his or her voting rights removed.
‘Makes a mockery of the laws’
“(However) this may now be an academic question since the 2004 general election has been superseded by the 2008 general election,” Lim said.
“But the Elections Commission’s failure to act and question the legality of the 2004 general election victories by the BN government not only makes a mockery of the very election laws it has drafted but also the spirit of democracy that votes should not be bought and sold,” he added.
Malaysiakini had earlier reported that during the 2004 polls, Umno received hundreds of millions of ringgit worth of campaign paraphernalia that included posters, badges, banners and caps, for which it had refused to pay.
Polls merchandise supplier, Elegant Advisory, then brought the dispute to court and was awarded judgement in default after Umno’s lawyer failed to appear in court.
On July 17, High Court deputy registrar Ahmad Faizadh Yahaya ordered Umno to pay RM218 million to the Kelana Jaya-based firm.
This is the highest-ever sum of money that Umno, which forms the backbone of the ruling BN coalition, has been ordered to pay by a court of law.
Umno treasurer Abdul Azim Mohd Zabidi has since filed an application to set aside the judgment.
In a six-page affidavit, Abdul Azim argued Elegant Advisory had sued the wrong body as it was BN, the coalition as a whole, and not Umno which contested in the general election.