Joint Statement by BERSIH 2.0, ENGAGE and Tindak Malaysia Rantau By-Election(23 April 2019): Decrease of Hate Speech but Increase in Treating and Gifting Offences

The Coalition of Clean and Fair Elections (BERSIH 2.0), ENGAGE and Tindak Malaysia today release their election observation reports for the Rantau by-election.
BERSIH 2.0 has recorded 36 cases of election offences and misconducts during the election campaign period, which include undue influence (2 cases), treating and gifting (7 cases), political violence, intimidation and harassment (1 case) promotion of ill-will or hostility using race and religion in campaigning (1 case) and problems on the polling day (25 cases). Most of the cases were committed by Pakatan Harapan (19 cases) and Barisan Nasional (16 cases). One case was committed by unknown person.
BERSIH 2.0 commended all the candidates for the decrease of hate speech in Rantau by-election as only one case was found in comparison with 4 cases in Cameron Highlands by-election and 3 cases in Semenyih by-election.
However, BERSIH 2.0 noted an increase of treating and gifting, from 4 cases in Cameron Highlands by-election and 5 cases in Semenyih by-election to 7 cases in the Rantau by-election. Both PH and BN hosted various dinner functions for voter or provided food in their campaigning programmes. PH was also found providing free health screening and ‘bekam’ service in a carnival.
Negeri Sembilan Exco Ismail Ahmad and Minister of Housing and Local Government Zuraida Kamaruddin were reported to have given promises to solve the problems faced by a disabled person centre and an old folks home in Rantau in their official capacity respectively when they campaigned for PH candidate there. While there is no specific mention of the offences of abuse of state resources in the Election Offences Act, making such promise using the position they are holding is an improper influence to voters.
BERSIH 2.0, ENGAGE and Tindak Malaysia have deployed observers to the polling centres on the polling day. We found that the prevalence of election offences committed by both PH and BN supporters have continued. Supporters from both parties were involved in various campaigning activities on the polling day despite the campaign period had ended at 12.00 midnight on 12 April 2019. They erected voter reference booths (‘pondok panas’) and campaigned by chanting slogans and waving flags outside polling centres. These actions violated section 26 of the Election Offences Act which prohibits campaigning on polling day.
We also noticed widespread deployment of vehicles by PH and BN for conveyance of voters which contravenes section 20(3) and (4) of the Election Offences Act. In the polling centres, we found polling agents taking down serial number of voters who turn up to vote in their notebook. It is a long time practice that violates section 5(2) of the Election Offences Act and undermine the secrecy of votes.
We condemn these open violation of election regulations by PH and BN and call on the police to investigate these incidents promptly. The lack of enforcement and absence of prosecution under existing legislation have resulted in perpetuation of election offences. We suggest the election campaign enforcement team to work with police on the enforcement against election offences; and the Election Commission and the Attorney General Chamber to study the feasibility of bringing charges to the offenders.
Last but not least, we commend the Election Commission for the improvement of the conduct of the Rantau by-election, such as assisting the presiding officer on the polling day, mailing polling station information card to all voters before the polling day and providing buggies to help voters in accessing polling centres.
Public members may view our full reports on
Jointly issued by,
BERSIH 2.0, ENGAGE and Tindak Malaysia