The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0) condemns the GPS Sarawak state government for giving control over the COVID-19 relief fund to selected GPS ADUNs only as reported by Sarawak Report on 11 April 2020 (https://www.sarawakreport.org/2020/04/cashing-in-on-covid-political-lies-and-shrinking-supplies-expose/).
Each of the 82 Sarawak state constituencies has been allocated RM200,000 to be spent on food for constituents. However, according to a memo from the Ministry of Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development, the allocation for opposition-held constituencies will be managed by a GPS representative. For example, Batu Kawah ADUN Dr. Sim Kui Hian and Nangka ADUN Dr. Annuar Rapa’ee were given management of RM1 million of funds respectively on behalf of their own and four opposition constituencies.
Forcing voters in opposition constituencies to turn to government representatives for relief aid is forcing them to support the government in the future. The practice is undermining democracy and GPS, PN, PH, PAS and Warisan are all guilty of this at the expense of the rakyat.
We condemn such unscrupulous and unethical practices that undermine democracy and further promote patronage-clientele relationships between the ruling party and voters especially during this critical time of COVID-19 pandemic. It has become a worrying trend when the PH Selangor state government (https://www.bersih.org/press-statement-25-march-2020-allocation-discrimination-against-opposition-is-institutionalized-clientelism/) and PN federal government (https://www.bersih.org/press-statement-21-march-2020-stop-all-constituency-funding-discrimination-against-opposition-representatives-at-federal-and-state-levels/) applied the similar funding mechanism which we have also condemned.
On the other hand, Kulai MP Teo Nie Ching also claimed that 422 poor families in her constituency were unable to receive food aid as she was notified by a welfare official that Transport Minister Wee Ka Siong was to coordinate the distribution of food aid at the opposition constituency. We demand an explanation from the Welfare Department and Wee Ka Siong on the halt of distribution of food aid in the constituency.
The federal government and all state governments must stop allocating funds with partisan bias and making political capital out of COVID-19 aid as exemplified by the PH Penang state government (https://www.bersih.org/press-statement-27-march-2020-bravo-penang-leads-in-non-discriminative-covid-19-allocations/).
We again call on the federal government and all state governments to institutionalise the reform of constituency development fund (CDF) allocation as the long-term solution.
Equal funding should be given to all elected representatives instead of channeling through unelected coordinators or other representatives in the opposition constituencies. The spending of the fund should also be monitored with strict guidelines and audited to avoid abuse and corruption.
Steering Committee of Bersih 2.0
(Image credit: Bernama)