Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Bersih: Act on breach of polls campaign rules


 
Bersih, the coalition for clean and fair elections, has strongly urged the authorities to enforce the Election Offences Act in relation to campaigning outside the stipulated period.
 
It cited complaints from the public about BN flags being displayed in Johor Bahru, with the words ‘Undilah Barisan Nasional’ (Vote BN).
 
Identical flags have been spotted in the affluent suburbs of Bangsar and Taman Tun Dr Ismail in Kuala Lumpur.
 
NONEBersih steering committee member Maria Chin Abdullah (left) said this would have been all right if the flag merely carries the BN logo.
 
However, the words ‘Undilah Barisan Nasional’ amounts to outright election campaigning and is hence is unacceptable, she explained.
 
“We still do not know when the election will be called, but we have all these political parties starting to campaign already,” she told a press conference today.
 
“The flag is just one (example). The other is all these promises of ... money. Literally, it is using taxpayers’ money to buy votes and this is coming out very blatantly.”
 
NONEOther steering committee members, Arul Prakash and Syed Ibrahim Syed Noh (right), pointed to promises by Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak and his deputy Muhyiddin Yassin to step up handouts under the Bantuan Rakyat 1Malaysia (BR1M) scheme if BN wins the next general election.
 
On Feb 16, Najib had been quoted as saying, “BR1M 3? ... Wait until after the general election. It may be given next year but first we have to get past the election”, also stressing that the BN always delivers its promises.

Muhyiddin had reportedly said that BR1M would be given out “not only for the second time, but for the third, fourth, fifth time, or even forever if BN wins the government,” while hinting that the cash aid may be raised from the current RM500.

MACC’s claim ‘misleading’

Bersih also questioned a statement by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) that there is no legal provision to prosecute those handing out money or gifts to obtain support for a political party.
 
Expressing disappointment, Maria argued that vote-buying remains an offence under the Election Offences Act regardless of who commits this or who benefits from it.
 
NONE“The MACC’s statement is misleading. Sections 8, 9, and 10 of the Election Offences Act does not specify that the acts of treating, undue influence, or bribery must be for the benefit of an individual candidate before these become an offence,” she said.
 
MACC deputy chief commissioner (III) Sutinah Sutan had said last week that it is not an offence if money or gifts are offered to win support for a party, rather than a candidate.

Maria said 2,000 volunteers have signed up for the citizens’election monitoring campaign Pemantau to date, but more urged more to attend Bersih’s training sessions and to help document election offences.
 
“The number of reports on misconduct and electoral irregularities, even before the dissolution of parliament, is worrying,” she added.
 
“More than ever, Malaysia needs the eyes and ears of its citizens to ensure that our right to clean and fair elections is upheld.”

~ Malaysiakini

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