Press Release from BERSIH 2.0
Dated: 7th November 2019
FISHING FOR FISHERMEN’S VOTES USING STATE FUNDS IS NOT ILLEGAL, BUT WRONG
The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (BERSIH 2.0) wishes to express our utmost disappointment with the conduct of the Pakatan Harapan government’s abuse of state resources during the Tanjung Piai by-election. The latest reported handout was that of the Menteri Besar of Johor, Datuk Dr Sahruddin Jamal, who announced today that 1,513 fishermen in southern Johor, including 544 fishermen from Tanjung Piai, will receive a special aid of RM1,000 each beginning next week from the state government. This attempt to fish for votes from the fishermen is not illegal under current laws, but it is clearly unethical for a political party to use tax-payers’ money to win elections.
We urge the Johor MB to demonstrate that the PH government adheres to the principles of free and fair elections by withholding the handouts and other government allocations till after the Tanjung Piai by-election. We acknowledge that the function of government must carry on during by-elections but for constituencies that are being contested, such announcement or distribution of new aids and allocations should cease as soon as a seat has been declared vacant or be made after the by-election to ensure level playing field.
Apart from the Johor MB, BERSIH 2.0 has been recording several instances of Federal government ministers making monetary allocations on their visits to Tanjung Piai, both before and during the campaign period. Ministers like Syed Saddiq, Rina Harun and Salahuddin Ayub, have justified their allocations by denying they were fishing for votes but the timing of their generosity makes their justifications sound like lame excuses.
BERSIH 2.0 once again reiterate that we are not saying that these ministers have violated any election laws because such laws governing the use of government resources does not exist yet. We call upon lawmakers from all parties to support electoral reforms and amendments to the Election Offences Act 1954, to ensure that when it comes to elections, the playing field is level.
Statement issued by:
The BERSIH 2.0 Steering Committee
Credit image : New Straits Times