COMMENT | Umno has become an illegal political party because Najib Abdul Razak, the caretaker prime minister and Umno president, was abnormally indecisive and hesitant when to hold the 14th general election, which involves very high personal stakes for him.
Under the party constitution, Umno is required to hold supreme council elections once every three years, but it has the power to give an 18-month extension under special circumstances, like preparing for the 14th general election.
The last Umno triennial elections were held on Oct 20, 2013, which means that Umno supreme council elections should have been held by Oct 19, 2016, to comply with the three-year requirement, or by April 19, 2018, if an 18-month extension was decided upon by the supreme council.
On June 26, 2015, Najib announced that the supreme council had decided to put off the party election due in October 2016 by 18 months.
He said: "According to Clause 10.16 of the Umno constitution, the supreme council has the right to postpone elections for its supreme council, divisions and branches. This postponement cannot exceed 18 months from the date the elections were supposed to be held."
That is, by April 19, 2018.
There was, however, no Umno elections held by that dat, and this fatal violation of the party constitution cannot be cured, overcome or rescued in any manner by the Registrar of Societies.
It is clear that all this chop-and-change as to when to hold Umno supreme council elections was all because of the extraordinary indecisiveness of Najib to decide when to hold the GE14.
When the supreme council decided in June 2015 to extend the party election by 18 months, the date of the expected GE14 was end 2016 or early 2017, which would be after the three-year expiry date for Umno elections in October 2016.
If there was no 18-month extension, Umno leaders from branch, divisional to national levels, would be more interested in 2015 and 2016 to prepare for Umno party election, so that they could get elected into important posts which would have an important bearing as to whether they could become Umno candidates, whether as MPs or state assembly representatives.
Section 3A doesn't give such powers to ROS
In retrospect, the best time for Najib to hold the GE14 would have been in 2016, after the BN streak of victories in the Sarawak state election and two parliamentary by-elections in Kuala Kangsar and Sungai Besar.
Furthermore, Bersatu was only formed in September 2016.
But like Hamlet, Najib was stricken by the “To be or not to be” syndrome, and 2016 came and went without any dissolution of Parliament and GE14.
Najib’s extraordinary indecisiveness as to when to hold the polls went on for the whole year of 2017, and Parliament was only dissolved on April 7 and the polling day fixed for May 9.
But this was after the cutoff date for the holding of Umno elections by April 19, 2018.
I have studied Section 3A of the Societies Act 1966, which had been quoted by the Umno secretary-general Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor as vesting powers on the ROS to give a further year-long extension for Umno supreme council election till April 19, 2019.
Section 3A states: "In addition to the powers, duties and functions conferred on the registrar by this Act and any regulations made thereunder, the registrar shall have and may exercise all such powers, discharge all such duties and perform all such functions as may be necessary for the purpose of giving effect to and carrying out the provisions of this Act.”
Does Tengku Adnan understand English or Bahasa Malaysia, as it is very plain that Section 3A of the Societies Act does not give the ROS any such powers?
This means that Umno and BN have become illegal political parties since yesterday, and the BN logo cannot be used in the GE14 nomination day next Saturday on April 28, 2018.
LIM KIT SIANG is DAP parliamentary leader and incumbent Gelang Patah MP.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.