PETALING JAYA: Transparency International-Malaysia (TI-M) has urged the authorities to come down hard on anyone found to have committed election offences in the upcoming by-election for Cameron Highlands.
Noting allegations of corruption even before the start of the official campaign period, TI-M president Akhbar Satar said the Election Commission (EC) had the power to deal with such offences under existing legislation.
He urged the EC, the police and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to make full use of the Election Offences Act 1954 (EOA), the MACC Act 2009 and the Penal Code to ensure that no one violates the rules, regulations and ethics of election campaigning.
Otherwise, he said, the credibility of such enforcement agencies and, by extension, the entire election process, would be called into question.
“For example, under Section 15A of the EOA, a candidate must record all expenses incurred during an event. The spending limit is also set at RM200,000.
“Did all candidates comply with this limit based on information and evidence provided?” he said in a statement today.
He also cited Sections 8, 9 and 10 of the EOA which cover the practices of treating, placing undue influence on voters, and bribery.
“All of the above sections of the EOA cover not only the candidate but anyone liable to committing these offences,” he added.
Akhbar said such offences had been reported even in election campaigns following the change of government on May 9 last year.
“The change of government does not seem to have brought the expected changes to the way political parties conduct their election campaigns,” he said, citing the election offences reported by Bersih 2.0 in the Sungai Kandis, Seri Setia, Balakong and Port Dickson by-elections last year.
“There should be zero tolerance of ‘money politics’ from both sides of the political divide.”
Just last Friday, Bersih called for the amendment of electoral laws to prevent politicians from campaigning in an area immediately after a seat is declared vacant and from using government machinery in their campaigns.
“The law needs to be clear on what cannot be done, because it is currently silent on the use of government machinery for campaigning,” its chairman Thomas Fann said.
Campaigning for the Cameron Highlands by-election, which began on Jan 12, ends on Jan 25. Polling will take place on Jan 26.
The by-election will see a four-cornered fight between Pakatan Harapan’s M Manogaran, Barisan Nasional candidate Ramli Mohd Nor and independent candidates Sallehudin Ab Talib and Wong Seng Yee.