Press Release from Bersih 2.0 (1 July 2020): Stop Abusing State Resources in Election Campaigns of PRK Chini

The Coalition for Clean and Fair Election (BERSIH 2.0) calls on Home Minister Hamzah Zainuddin to explain publicly about the reported attendance of BN candidate and chanting of “Hidup BN” at an official function of RELA entitled “Majlis Bersama Jabatan Sukarelawan Malaysia” that he attended on 27 June 2020 at Dewan Semai Bakti in Chini ( ).

It was reported in BN for Chini Facebook page ( that RELA personnel attended the function in full uniform and chanted “Hidup BN’ for three times. BN candidate, Mohd Sharin bin Md Zain was reportedly present as well at the function. 

As RELA is a unit under the Home Ministry, this raises several pertinent questions, (1) was the RELA’s function abused for election campaigning for BN? (2) if RELA personnel in Chini were asked or mobilized by the Home Ministry to attend the said function to provide support for BN candidate; and  finally? (3) shouldn’t RELA as a government department maintains its impartiality and administration neutrality in its functions?

It is also questionable why the BN candidate was present at the official function of RELA? With only BN candidate was present but not the other two candidates, this clearly gave unfair advantage to BN candidate.  

On June 28th, Ismail Sabri announced that the Defense Ministry will build an arms excellence center costing RM60 million in Kampung Bukit Chempedak Bintang, Kuala Chini at a goodwill programme with Malaysian Armed Forces veterans in Chini at Bandar Dara Chini. (Malaysiakini, He claimed that the Tropical Testing Center project was approved several years earlier during the BN administration.

As the project would be located in Chini and the announcement was made during the Chini by-election, it is difficult for the public not to associate such announcement as abuse of state power to fish for votes. In order to clear the public doubts, BERSIH 2.0 calls on Ismail Sabri to provide further details of the approval of the said project several years ago, including the exact date of approval, the meeting that approved it, when was the budget for this project approved and the budget item for this project in the Budget 2020.

On June 30th, Minister of Communication and Multimedia Saifuddin Abdullah in a statement announcing that a project to upgrade and expand the internet coverage is being done in Chini since end of May. According to him, 10 new transmitting towers of 4G will be constructed and 11 existing transmitting towers of 2G and 3G will be upgraded to 4G while copper connection of 439 premises will be replaced with fibre optics.

BERSIH 2.0 welcomes development projects that benefit the people, we however question the timing of the project that coincides with the by-election. The new project was clearly planned with full knowledge that a by-election would be held in Chini with former state assemblyman of Chini, Abu Bakar Harun passed away on May 7.  This again raises question of the possibility of abusing ministry resources to fish for votes and an unfair advantage in favour of ruling party in an election.      

BERSIH 2.0 strongly oppose the use of ministry or public resources to fish for votes for a particular candidate or political party. We hold this as unethical, a form of abuse of power and corruption.

We call on all political parties and candidates in PRK Chini to stop immediately any abuse of public resources for election campaigns.

To curb such unethical behaviour of abusing public positions, power and resources to fish for votes for a certain candidate or political party in future, BERSIH 2.0 calls for the immediate introduction of Public Administration Neutrality Act and to amend the Malaysia Anti-Corruption Commission Act to criminalise such behaviour.


Released by:
The Steering Committee of BERSIH 2.0