Press Statement (8 March 2019):Semenyih By-Election: Blatant Violation of Election Laws Continued

The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (BERSIH 2.0) today releases its Semenyih by-election observation report.

BERSIH 2.0 has recorded 35 cases of election offences and misconducts throughout the election period. Among them were undue influence (8 cases), treating and gifts (5 cases), political violence, intimidation and harassment (2 cases), promotion of ill-will or hostility using race and religion in campaigning (3 cases) and problems on the polling day (17 cases).

These offences and misconducts were committed by Pakatan Harapan (21 cases) and Barisan Nasional (13 cases). One case was committed by unknown person and none were recorded for the Parti Sosialis Malaysia and independent candidates.

BERSIH 2.0 is disappointed with the continual use of treating and gifting despite it being an election offence. All 5 cases of treating and gifting were committed by PH. They were found to be giving out free porridge to mosque-goers and engine oil to motorcyclists on several occasions. Food were also served at some PH ceramah.

We also noted an increase of undue influence by the government in election campaign. PH was reported to be handing out letters of offer for Housing Programme for the Hardcore Poor (PPRT) to voters. Several ministers and the Selangor Menteri Besar were found announcing or handing out special allocations to upgrade the clinics, hospital, police stations, hall and mosque in Semenyih. We strongly condemn such blatant and open abuse of government resources for electioneering which created an unlevel playing-field for the other candidates.

BERSIH 2.0 is appalled that speeches that promoted ill-will and hostility between the various races and religions were spoken during the Semenyih by-election. All 3 recorded incidents were committed by BN. BN secretary-general Nazri Aziz accused the PH government for giving up the rights of the Malays to others, by appointing non-Malays as chief justice, attorney-general and finance minister. UMNO Acting President Mohamed Hassan said Malays feel like visitors in their own country as there are too many ‘penumpang’ (passengers) in Parliament, implying that there were too many non-Malay MPs in the Dewan Rakyat.

Civility took a hit when the Puchong UMNO division chief Mohamed Satim Diman equated the deaths of four Selangor ADUNs as a divine sign. Such insensitive remarks showed a total disregard to the families of the deceased ADUNs. BERSIH 2.0 calls on the political leaders to be more civil in their political discourse and have substantive debate, instead of resorting to incivility and racist rhetoric.

Despite banned by the Election Commission (EC), campaigning activities and ‘pondok panas’ (voter reference booth) outside polling centres were still blatant. Some political parties were found obtaining the identities of voters outside the polling centres, which is a violation of the Election Offences Act. BERSIH 2.0 has lodged complaints to the Election Campaign Enforcement Team (PPKPR) and police. While the police have appointed investigation officers to investigate the four police report that our observers lodged and taken statements from our observers, we call on the police to make sure all those involved are investigated and prosecuted if there are enough evidence. This is crucial to show that the police is serious in assisting the Election Commission in enforcing the election law.

Some improvements were made by the EC in this by-election. For the first time, the EC sent by post information cards to the voters with details of their polling stations and salurans. This resulted in greater speed and efficiency in the polling process and the highest turnout rate among the by-elections held after the 14th general election. The EC also published the contact details of the enforcement agencies for public circulation and increased the number of PPKPR from one to four. However, the PPKPR could be more proactive and responsive in enforcing the election rules.

BERSIH 2.0 will submit the observation report to the EC, MACC and police. We call on the enforcement agencies to take serious action against the perpetrators of election laws and bring them to justice. Members of the public may read the full report on the BERSIH 2.0’s website at​.

Released by, BERSIH 2.0 Steering Committee