High Court orders Najib to file defence to suit claiming election overspending

Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak at the World Capital Market Symposium in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Sept 3, 2015.
Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak at the World Capital Market Symposium in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Sept 3, 2015. PHOTO: REUTERS

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia's High Court has ordered Prime Minister Najib Razak and three others to file their defence in response to a suit by the opposition for allegedly overspending in their 13th general election campaign.

Lawyer Choo Shi Jiu, who is representing the prime minister, said the latter must file his defence by Oct 1, the Malaysian Insider reported on Thursday.

Others named as defendants are Barisan Nasional (BN) secretary-general Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor, state investment firm 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) and the Election Commission.

The news portal quoted Mr Choo as saying that the deputy registrar has also given instructions that the defendants were at liberty to file other interlocutory applications by Oct 9.

The opposition Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) filed a suit on Aug 12 against Mr Najib for violating election laws following a report in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) in July alleging that US$700 million (S$990 million) was deposited into his personal bank accounts, according to the news portal.

On Aug 3, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) said the cash was merely a donation.

Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah Anwar said that the facts of the case exposed corruption and various corrupt tactics used by the BN to win the 13th general election, Malaysian Insider reported.

She said last month that the money used was more than 26 times the amount allowed under Malaysian laws. She pointed out that Section 19 of the Election Offences Act limits electoral spending to RM100,000 and RM200,000 (S$33,461 and S$66,922) for a state and parliamentary candidate respectively.

Mr Najib has denied any wrongdoing and said he did not use any state fund for personal gain.