“Rice for votes” scandal in Penang: EC must investigate

The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (BERSIH) urges the Elections Commission to investigate an alleged case of pre-election bribery in Penang.
It has been reported in the Chinese-language national dailies that the State Assemblyman for Kebun Bunga, Penang, Quah Kooi Heong, was personally involved in distributing rice packets to his constituents with an explicit election message attached to it, which constitutes an offence of election bribery.

The rice packets, weighing 5 kg each, have labels bearing the Barisan Nasional election slogan for Bukit Bendera parliamentary seat and its four state constituencies in the last election. The “Gimme 5” slogan was BN’s message to the voters, denoting a clean sweep of all five seats (four state and one parliamentary seat) in the area.
Sources say that BN workers told constituents receiving the rice packets to vote for BN candidates in the coming election.
According to Kwong Wah Yit Poh (page A4, 23/1/2008), Quah admitted to distributing the rice packets with Deputy Information Minister and Member of Parliament for Bukit Bendera, Dato’ Seri Chia Kwang Chye, in and around the Rifle Range area but claimed that it was part of BN’s campaign to promote the Rukunegara.
BERSIH views this as a serious matter and urges the Election Commission to investigate the case as it is an election offence to provide gifts to voters before, during and after an election.
The Election Offences Act 1954 Section 10 (c) stipulates that “every person who, before, during or after an election, directly or indirectly, by himself or by any other person on his behalf, makes any such gift, loan, offer, promise, procurement, or agreement as aforesaid to or for any person in order to induce such person to procure or endeavour to procure the election of any person, or the vote of any elector or voter at any election” shall be deemed guilty of the offence of bribery.
BERSIH also urges State Assemblyman Quah Kooi Heong and Dato’ Seri Chia Kwang Chye to own up to the alleged offences immediately.