Bersih 2.0 Press Statement (1 April 2020) : Covid-19 Gifts Raise Questions of Accountability and Power Abuse

The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0) expresses grave concern on faces and names of elected politicians appearing on Covid-19 gifts for constituents such as rice and hand sanitizer, as some may involve abuse of government funding. We call on all involved representatives to publicly declare the cost and source of such gifts.

If government funds are abused for politicians to seek gratification, it may warrant investigation by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) under Section 23 of the MACC Act. However, from the prima facie evidence gathered, the 19 cases brought to the attention of Bersih 2.0 may be classified in three categories with different issues.

List of 19 elected representatives whose names and faces appear on Covid-19 relief items


Name (Party)

Stated Executive Capacity

Stated Legislative Capacity/


Stated Party Capacity

Items with Face/Name

Category by Most Prominent Office


Annuar Musa (UMNO)

Minister, Federal Territories

MP, Ketereh (P026)


Federal Minister


Saifuddin Abdullah (PPBM)

Minister, Communications and Multimedia

MP, Indera Mahkota (P082)


Federal Minister


Ikmal Hisham Abdul Aziz (PAS)

Deputy Minister, Agriculture

MP, Tanah Merah (P027)



Deputy Minister


Mukhriz Mahathir (PPBM)

MB and Kedah State Government

Rice & Hand Sanitizer

Chief Minister


Wan Rosdy Wan Ismail (UMNO)

Pahang State Government

Gift Package/Box

Chief Minister


Veerapan a/l Superamaniam (DAP)

Exco, Negeri Sembilan

ADUN, Repah (N36, Negeri Sembilan)

Hand Sanitizer

State Exco


Azmin Ali (PPBM)


Hand Sanitizer


Senior Minister


Ismail Sabri bin Yaakob (UMNO)

MP, Bera (P90)

Chief, Bera Division, UMNO



Senior Minister


Noraini Ahmad (UMNO)

MP, Parit Sulong (P147)


Federal Minister


Summugam Rengasamy




State Exco


Najwan Halimi (PKR)


Gift Package/Box

State Government Backbencher


Nga Kok Ming (DAP)

Deputy Speaker, DR;

MP, Teluk Intan (P076);

ADUN, Aulong (N18, Perak)

Gift Package

Deputy Speaker, Dewan Rakyat


Khalid Samad (Amanah)


Gift Package/Box

Former Federal Minister


Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman (PPBM)



Former Federal Minister


Hannah Yeoh (DAP)

MP, Segambut(P117)

Gift Package/Box

Former Federal Deputy Minister


Lim Lip Eng (DAP)

MP, Kepong (P114)


Former Government Backbencher


Fahmi Fadzil (PKR)

MP, Lembah Pantai (P121)

Gift Package/Box, Hand Sanitizer

Former Government Backbencher


Chan Ming Kai (PKR)

MP, Alor Setar (P009)


Former Government Backbencher


Young Syefura Othman (DAP)



State Opposition Member

*Bersih 2.0 thanks all netizens who provide the photographic evidences


Category A: Potential abuse of power by Federal and State Frontbenchers 

In the most clear-cut cases, two federal ministers (Annuar Musa, Saifuddin Abdullah), a federal deputy minister (Ikmal Hisham) and a state exco (Veerapan a/l Superamaniam) have their faces and/or names featured on the gift pack, in both their capacities as federal/state minister and constituency representative. (Another state exco, Summugam Rengasamy may have done the same but is listed in category B because the writing on images obtained is not clear.)

If the gifts were funded using executive resources under their watch, Bersih 2.0 believes they have abused their ministerial power and should be subject to investigation under the MACC Act. However, if the fund has come from their Constituency Development Fund (CDF) or other constituency allocation, their cases would be the same as in category B.

In the grey area, Menteri Besars, Mukhriz Mahathir and Wan Rosdy Wan Ismail, provide gifts printed with their portrait in the name of their state government. If the gifts involve fund for statewide purposes but are given only to their own constituencies or very selected recipients personally connected to them, and not for all qualified recipients across the state, they too should be investigated for abuse of power.

In a separate but related development, we would like to point out that the posters of “Pakej Perangsangan Selangor Prihatin menangani Kesan Covid-19” (The Caring Selangor’s Stimulus Package to Counter Effects of Covid-19) are inappropriate by personally featuring Menteri Besar Amirudin Shari, instead of the Selangor State Government he leads.

Not only promotion of personality cult is bad for democracy, this should not happen because Selangor — by default of constitutional monarchy – has a parliamentary government. There is no MB without the State Government. And there is no State Government without the confidence of the State Legislature. Mr Amirudin Shari must not mistake himself to be the state president of Selangor with a statewide personal mandate. As in the federal case, Selangor’s stimulus package should therefore be tabled and debated in the Selangor State Legislature.


Category B: Under-regulated Use of Constituency Allocation

In this category, three federal ministers, Azmin Ali, Ismail Sabri and Noraini Ahmad; a state Exco, Summugam Rengasamy; and a state government backbencher, Najwan Halimi, give constituents Covid-19 relief items with their faces and/or names featured.

As members of federal or state ruling coalition, all five of them are entitled to the regular Constituency Development Fund (CDF) or special Covid-19 allocation. Hence, if the gifts are paid for with constituency allocations, there would be no legal issue.

With the latest decision to allow opposition parliamentarians to use up to RM 100,000, the gifts by 7 of them (Nga Kok Meng, Khalid Samad, Syed Saddiq, Lim Lip Eng, Fahmi Fadzil and Chan Ming Kai) may also be funded using taxpayers’ money. If they pay it from their own pocket, then they fall into category C.

Regardless of party, why should lawmakers take the credit when the funds come from taxpayers and not the representatives’ own pockets? This is why Bersih 2.0 has constantly highlighted the need for constituency allocation to be rigorously regulated and transparently administered.

With proper regulation, politicians will have no opportunities to fish popularity using taxpayers’ contribution.


Category C: Potential encouragement of clientelism with private fund

The last category consists of one state opposition representative, Young Syefura Othman, and possibly any of the seven opposition parliamentarians in Category B who uses their own money to buy those relief items.

It is not unlawful for politicians to seek name recognition after forking out their own money to aid their constituents. However, this nevertheless still encourages clientelism and erodes democracy.

The ultimate solution is to have first, professional, impartial and responsive state agencies to sufficiently provide for constituents’ need for local development and relief; second, a strong civil society to allow members of society to support each other, as aptly framed by the Covid-19 relief hatchtag #KitaJagaKita. 

The rise of politician-sourced aids and the Majlis Keselamatan Negara’s banning of NGO relief work are therefore not at all a coincidence.

Bersih 2.0’s Demands

After considering the facts and possibilities, Bersih 2.0 makes the following calls:

  • All politicians should stop immediately advertising their photo and name on reliefgoods that are bought with taxpayers’ money;
  • All elected representatives to make public their expenses and sources for Covid-19 relief, ensuring accountability and transparency;
  • Any element of power abuse in the 5 cases in Category A to be duly investigated by the MACC;
  • Introduction of rigorous regulation and oversight mechanism on all constituency-level funding administered by federal and state lawmakers without partisan discrimination, such that politicians cannot claim credit for contribution made by taxpayers;
  • Lifting excessive restrictions on civil society organisation’s relief work for the marginalised, so not to create a captive market for popularity-hungry politicians

Released by:
Steering Committee of Bersih 2.0