Bersih moots ‘3Cs’ guide to prevent electioneering advantage to govt reps

KUALA LUMPUR, July 20 — With three weeks to the six state polls, election watchdog Bersih today proposed three rules to prevent candidates from the Pakatan Harapan-Barisan Nasional (PH-BN) coalition from using the government’s resources to gain an unfair advantage in their campaign.

The three rules are: No Conditions, No Campaign and No Candidates, or “3Cs” for short.

It noted that while there are laws that prevent a state government from using state resources during caretaker mode, Bersih said no laws currently exist to regulate the federal government from using its resources.

It noted a rise in allocations and projects made by the federal government in the run-up to the August 12 state elections.

“No conditions means you don’t make a promise of an allocation that can only be fulfilled if the party or candidate wins, that would make it akin to fishing for votes. So any allocation made by the federal government should be fulfilled regardless of the outcome of the state elections,” Bersih chairman Thomas Fann said

“No campaign means any announcements of allocations must be made at official government functions without the party logo, symbols and mention of the party candidate. It should also ensure no special allocations are made in a particular constituency to help certain parties wrest or retain such constituencies.

“The third is no candidate meaning an electoral candidate shouldn’t be standing on the stage or even in the audience and be highlighted and praised then followed by announcements of allocations.

“These are clear guidelines that we hope the unity government will adhere to. It’s about fair play and elections are only meaningful and legitimate when there is the perception by voters that whoever wins the election was elected fairly.

“That way when they win even their non-supporters will be able to accept the results of the outcome,” Fann said.

Bersih listed several announcements by the government it said were examples of electioneering.

Among them was Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s three announcements on July 15, of RM10 million to Amanah Ikhtiar Malaysia in Kulim, Kedah; RM3 billion to upgrade infrastructure for farmers in Kedah; and a mock cheque presentation for RM62 million to farmers and fishermen in Kedah.

Bersih noted that Anwar announced another RM4.6 million aid for Penang’s public religious schools the next day, and Transport Minister Anthony Loke from DAP who announced a possible greenlight for LRT projects from Penang island to Seberang Perai.

The watchdog also listed a July 15 land grants presentation by caretaker Kedah menteri besar Datuk Seri Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor from PAS to residents in Kulim and Sungai Petani as an example of the incumbent state government’s electioneering.

Bersih said it is mobilising a campaign to encourage more voters to turn up and vote for the upcoming state elections.

Fann said the usual voter turnout for a state election is around 10-15 per cent less than during a general election.

“If nothing is done we would be seeing a 60-65 per cent turnout. We’d like that to be higher as it gives meaning to the elections and greater legitimacy to those elected,” he added.

Kedah, Kelantan, Terengganu, Penang, Negeri Sembilan and Selangor will go to the polls on August 12, early voting will be on August 8 while nominations for candidates will be on July 29.

(First published by MalayMail on 20 July 2023: