Press Statement (17 January 2019): There Should be No Discrimination on Development

1. The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0) refers to the remarks made by YB Lim Guan Eng, who is Finance Minister, while campaigning for the Pakatan Harapan (PH) candidate in the P078 Cameron Highlands by-election, as reported by MalaysiaKini on 16th January, 2019 with the title – “Guan Eng: Vote Harapan for development in Cameron Highlands.”

2. Lim told reporters after a visit to the Felda Sungai Koyan night market that, “Although the Malaysian government has changed, but the Cameron Highlands (parliamentary) seat has not changed. Why not change this time?  This is for the sake of development. If not, the development in the area will lag. But if there are no changes, then voters can change again in GE15.”

3. Bersih 2.0 is of the view that government parties should compete on policies, performance and fulfillment of manifesto promises, instead of turning incumbency into basis of patronage to discriminate against opposition lawmakers, candidates and voters. New Malaysia is hollow without this paradigm shift which PH must spearhead instead of politics as usual.

4. We also reminds Lim of Pakatan Harapan’s promise in the opening remarks of its GE14 manifesto that PH was determined to stop UMNO and Barisan Nasional’s failure to guarantee the welfare of the common people, especially those who live in rural areas, the Indians and the indigenous people, as well as the lower middle class who are often forgotten. PH’s promises were for the 99 percent, and not just for the 1 percent cronies of UMNO and Barisan Nasional.  Bersih 2.0 suggests that this noble commitment should be to the 100 percent of Malaysians. No one should be left behind in any developments.

5. Bersih 2.0 is also concern that Lim’s remarks, hinting that development would be withheld from Cameron Highlands not only smack of discrimination in local development against opposition constituencies but can also be considered as undue influence, an election offence under Section 9 of the Election Offences Act 1954.

6. We would urge all parties who are campaigning to adhere to the existing laws with regard to elections as well as demonstrating higher ethical standards when it comes to the use of its power as an incumbent Federal or State government. The principle of a clean and fair election is that the playing field should be level for all candidates, including the smaller parties and in Cameron Highland’s case, the two independent candidates. Just because something may not be illegal does not necessarily make it right or fair.

7. Negative campaigning like personal attacks on candidates, the creating of disharmony using ethnicity and religion, threat of violence and the withholding of aid and development should be avoided as some of these are election offences.

8. PH should be reminded that the previous administration of Barisan Nasional (BN) under ex-PM Najib Razak had consistently abused their incumbency while campaigning with the “You help me, I help you” approach in giving out development aids to constituencies. Such unethical methods should cease under New Malaysia and PH should not disappoint Malaysians by morphing into BN 2.0 with such electioneering method.

9. Bersih 2.0 urges Lim to either clarify or reiterate his remarks to Cameron Highlands’ voters immediately – will PH as the Federal Government discriminate against the constituency if they did not vote in their candidate or will they truly usher in a “breath of fresh air” into Malaysian politics by promising development to Cameron Highlands regardless of who wins on Polling Day on 26th of January?

Statement issued by:
The Steering Committee of Bersih 2.0


(Photo credit: Malaysia Today)