Allocations ahead of by-election: Abuse of government machinery!

ANIL NETTO/ALIRAN

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The Center to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4 Center) questions the propriety and timing of the recent announcement of a RM5.2m allocation for projects in Hulu Selangor by Housing and Local Government Minister Nga Kor Ming, with specific funds for development and maintenance projects specifically in the Kuala Kubu Bharu area.

This announcement comes ahead of the Kuala Kubu Bharu state constituency by-election scheduled for 11 May. This indicates a continuation of the long-standing practice of improper use of government machinery and funds to prop up electoral candidates from a ruling party or coalition.

Nga was quoted by reporters as denying that this allocation is connected to the upcoming by-election, stating instead that the decision was made because it is “an auspicious place” with good “feng shui”.

This is an inadequate explanation unbefitting of a cabinet minister speaking on official federal government policy. Was this truly the sole consideration which led to the decision being made, in light of all prevailing circumstances?

The supposedly innocuous nature of this announcement is further discredited by his subsequent statement, where he is reported as calling on all voters to return to vote for a party that is “good, caring and progressive”.

The message and intent here appears to be clear: federal funding is being used as a flashy encouragement to vote for the candidate from the ruling coalition. It is extremely convenient for this allocation to be announced and publicised less than a month before the by-election.

This isn’t the first time this has occurred under the Anwar Ibrahim administration.

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Last July, Deputy PM Zahid Hamidi was widely reported to have announced certain federal allocations to Terengganu youth groups prior to the Terengganu state polls. Here, he expressly indicated that the amounts might be increased depending on the results of the election. In justifying this move, Prime Minister Anwar said the allocation had been pre-planned and that these incentives had nothing to do with the state elections. Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission chief Azam Baki also declared that the grants were proper, as there was no element of electoral bribery.

Unethical campaigning is highly detrimental to the nation’s democratic processes and public participation in governance. In recent by-elections, the present government has continually demonstrated its blatant disregard for reform of this practice.

Federal funds must not be used in such transparent appeals for votes.

Members of the public must also shed the mindset that such “goodies” should be expected in the lead-up to elections – as this merely perpetuates the dependence of our democratic system on money politics and paves the way for politicians to find ways to legitimise the practice of vote-buying.

C4 Center calls upon this government to step up and pioneer much-needed reforms to Malaysian election law.

In particular, clear and strict guidelines must be introduced on acceptable election campaign practices.

The classification of election offences under the Election Offences Act 1954 should be reviewed to ensure they remain relevant to contemporary campaign methods.

The role of the MACC in investigating allegations of election offences must be made clear.

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The Anwar administration should cease its complicity in the unethical practices of past leaders and introduce progressive institutional and legal reforms in consultation with civil society stakeholders. – C4 Center

The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.
AGENDA RAKYAT - Lima perkara utama
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