MEDIA STATEMENT ( 9 October 2018): Election Campaign Activities Should Abide by Free and Fair Election Principles

The Coalition for Clean and Fair Election (BERSIH 2.0) takes note of the suggestion of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim for Election Commission and BERSIH 2.0 to look into facilitating campaign and to ensure candidates and electorate are able to access each other seamlessly in election campaign.

BERSIH 2.0 indeed encourages interaction between candidates and the electorate in election campaign. However, we would also like to reiterate that these activities should not be done in contradiction with the international principles on free and fair elections. These principles, among others, require that all stakeholders in an election to ensure that it is free from all forms of bribery and vote buying, level playing field for all candidates and political parties, and administrative neutrality and non-abuse of government machinery.

BERSIH 2.0 therefore supports the call of the Election Commission chairman, Azhar Azizan Harun that if Anwar Ibrahim is allowed to enter the military camp to campaign, other candidates should be accorded the same treatment to ensure level playing field for all candidates and the principle of administrative neutrality of the Defence Ministry. Otherwise, the Ministry of Defence would be seen as abusing government machinery for the Pakatan Harapan candidate.

We also share the same concerns expressed by Lukut state assemblyperson, Choo Ken Hwa on a free dinner for 3,000 to 4,000 people that will be held in Lukut during the Port Dickson by-election. Such dinner is no different from the feast thrown by Jho Low in Penang during the 13th General Election. Section 8 of the Election Offences Act prohibits treating of food, drink, refreshment or provision to induce voters to vote for a particular candidate.

We call for the dinner event to be postponed until after the by-election. In Sungai Kandis by-election, a free durian fest was postponed to after by-election to avoid any breach of election laws. This good precedent should be followed.

In particularly, BERSIH 2.0 would like to draw attention of all candidates and political parties to Section 15A of the Election Offences Act that prohibits expenses incurred by any person other than the candidate, his election agent and persons authorised in writing by the election agent in election campaign, whether it is for an open public meeting, open public rally or open public entertainment.

Section 19 further sets the limit of election campaign expenses to be capped at RM200,000 for parliament seat.

Therefore, the expenses incurred in the free concert in Port Dickson during by-election should be by the candidate, his election agent or person authorised by the election agent and be included in the financial statement of the candidate’s election campaign expenditure.

Issued by,

Steering Committee of BERSIH 2.0