Bersih moots tighter laws on govt expenses after open house debacle

PETALING JAYA: Bersih has called for laws regulating government expenditure to be tightened following Putrajaya’s decision to host Hari Raya open houses in six states.

Bersih chairman Thomas Fann chided the move to have the Hari Raya open houses in the six states which are going to the polls in a few months.

He said it was time to put an end to the practice of abusing government resources for politically-motivated activities.

Ads by Kiosked

“There must be clearer and stricter laws to stop the misuse and abuse of government resources for campaigning,” Fann told FMT.

“Given that federal resources will be used to organise these mega gatherings, with the elections around the corner, the accusations leveled against Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim are not without merit.

“The hosting of Hari Raya open houses in the six states that will hold state elections in a few months is not a coincidence.”

He also challenged Perikatan Nasional (PN) to propose better regulations, saying those “who are now complaining” were also guilty of wastage during their time in the federal government.

“The opposition should come up with proposals to stop such practices if they are truly unhappy about this situation,” he said.

Previously, PAS leaders, such as Kedah menteri besar Sanusi Nor and Kota Bharu MP Takiyuddin Hassan, slammed the federal government over the open house events, calling it “election campaigning” and saying that it goes against Putrajaya’s cost-cutting stance.

Takiyuddin, who is also PN chief whip, was also reported to have said that the open houses in the six states were politically motivated.

The open house in Kedah is taking place in Alor Setar today, followed by Penang (May 6), Negeri Sembilan (May 7), Terengganu (May 13), Selangor (May 14) and Kelantan (May 21).

The six states are expected to dissolve their respective state assemblies by the end of June for the state polls to take place.

In response to the uproar over the move by Putrajaya, economic minister Rafizi Ramli was reported to have said that the federal government will only bear the cost of the open houses in PAS-led Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu, while the events in Penang, Selangor and Negeri Sembilan will be funded by the state governments.

He added that the total cost of organising open houses in Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu, was cheaper than holding it at the prime minister’s official residence, due to the lower attendance and based on the overall expenditure.

(First published by Free Malaysia Today on 29 April 2023: