The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0) has released its observers’ report on the Sungai Kandis by-election, which was held on 4 August 2018.
The observation of the by-election was conducted by 38 observers and ran from 21 July to 4 August 2018.
Bersih 2.0 recognises and welcomes the improvement measures taken by the Electora Commission as below in Sungai Kandis by-election:
- The closing of voting time was extended to 5.30pm instead of 5.00pm
- The increase in voting streams to reduce congestion
- The increase in voting boxes from two to three to accommodate more voters to cast votes at one go
- Buggy vans were prepared to ferry senior citizens or persons with disabilities from the gate of polling stations to the voting streams
- The campaign period was extended from 11 days in the 2018 general election to 14 days in this by-election
- Five non-governmental organisations and the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) were accredited officially by the Electoral Commission and allowed to observe the whole electoral process
- Observers were given a two-day briefing by the Electoral Commission on the electoral processes
- A copy of the electoral roll of Sungai Kandis in pdf format was given to observer organisations at no cost.
Bersih 2.0, however, is appalled by the same dirty election campaign tactics employed by both Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) and Barisan Nasional (BN) candidates, Zawawi Mughni and Lokman Adam.
Zawawi Mughni’s campaign was found to involve activities of giving out free motocycle engine oil to bikers and free medical check-ups and medicine to residents, which are election offences of undue influence on voting.
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Zawawi also committed the offence of abusing government assets and events in at least four cases, where he was found to have campaigned for support in two public schools and three government events.
On another occasion, several ministers were found to have used official car to go to the nomination centre on polling day.
Lokman Adam was found to have committed the election offences of treating food and drinks to gain votes on two occasions, namely a majlis kenduri rakyat organised by Pahang Umno on 31 July 2018 and a ceramah Pentas Bicara Rakyat on 1 August 2018 where rojak, bakso, tea and fried noodles were served to those in attendance.
More alarmingly, racial and religious hatred wase again used to canvass for support in at least four events in Lokman’s electoral campaign. Shukri Samsudin and Khairul Muzammil were found to have made inflammatory statements such as “DAP is established on the ideology to disappear the names of bumiputera, pribumi and Malay” in a ceramah while the member of Parliament for Pasir Salak, Tajuddin Abdul Rahman, made the accusation that Christians have taken over Putrajaya and will use the political platform to spread Christianity.
Bersih 2.0 found that despite all these actions committed in the election campaigns of both candidates – which are clearly stipulated as election offences in the Election offences Act, such as Section 8 on treating, Section 9 on undue influence, Section 10 on bribery, Section 4A on the offence of promoting feelings of ill-will or hostility – the Electoral Commission failed to take the necessary legal action against the perpetrators.
Bersih 2.0 makes the following recommendations to the Electoral Commission:
- Increase human resources in the enforcement team in order for the enforcement team to monitor all election campaign activities of candidates and their political parties, such as ceramah, food feasts, and the giving out of goodies. It should not just confine itself to monitoring and removing illegal campaign material only. The Electoral Commission should publicise a hotline for the enforcement team so that the public can lodge complaints when they find such offences committed by candidates or political parties.
- Establish a joint task force with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission to monitor bribery and corruption before, during and after elections. A public hotline number should be announced for the public to lodge complaints.
- Investigate and take legal action on the complaints if it is serious about defending free, clean and fair elections. Perpetrators should be brought to court to stop electoral fraud and bribery.
These measures should be put in place for the Balakong and Seri Setia by-elections.
Bersih 2.0 will deploy 18 observers in both the Balakong and Seri Setia by-elections. We call on all contesting candidates and political parties to abide by the election law and regulations and ensure a clean and fair election. Campaign tactics that are election offences in Sungai Kandis should not be repeated in the Balakong and Seri Setia by-elections.
Bersih 2.0 will lodge complaints to the relevant authorities for legal action on any election offence found.
Bersih 2.0 steering committee