Bersih: EC must probe 'rice for votes' scandal

Khairil Zhafri | Jan 24, 08

The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih) has urged the Election Commission to investigate an alleged case of pre-election bribery in Penang during the 2004 general election as reported in national Chinese dailies yesterday.

The dailies reported that the State Assemblyman for Kebun Bunga, Quah Kooi Heong, was personally involved in distributing rice packets to his constituents then.
In a statement, Bersih claimed that the rice packets weighing 5kg each, had labels bearing the Barisan Nasional election slogan for Bukit Bendera parliamentary seat and its four state constituencies in the area.
The explicit election message attached to the rice packets constitutes an offence of election bribery, Bersih said.
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.
Bersih quoted sources as saying that BN workers had told constituents receiving the rice packets to vote for BN candidates.
Election offfence
Yesterday, Kwong Wah Yit Poh reported that Quah had admitted to distributing the rice packets with Deputy Information Minister and Member of Parliament for Bukit Bendera, Chia Kwang Chye, in and around the Rifle Range. He also claimed that it was part of BN’s campaign to promote the Rukunegara.
Under the Election Act 1954 Section 10 ©), 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.”
Last year, former prime minister, Dr Mahathir Mohamad and DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng claimed that there was bribery and vote-buying during the Ijok and Machap by-election.
A public rally calling for free and clean election organised by Bersih in Kuala Lumpur last November attracted 40,000 people.