Sawarak polls monitors witnessed litany of election offences

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Image: freemalaysiatoday.com

Pemantau expresses the utmost concern over the multiple election offences committed in the Tasik Biru constituency with no regard or respect for electoral processes in a working democracy.

A team of Pemantau was stationed for two weeks in the Tasik Biru area and recorded instances of elections offences listed below:

Money politics, vote-buying, treating

There were multiple reports by local residents of being given RM20–RM50 to attend events and vote for Barisan National candidates. This was verified through interviews with some voters; however, they were reluctant to reveal their names for security reasons.

A Pemantau team also witnessed Rela officers and their family members receiving RM30 after an event by Barisan Nasional. When interviewed, some of the recipients were disappointed as they had been told they would receive RM50.

All of Barisan National events organised during the campaign period saw free food being given out. At one lavish dinner event organised by YB Tiong King Sing in Bau Town, a seven-course dinner was served to some 1,000 people from around Bau town.

During an event organised by the home affairs ministry with Rela members in Dewan Suarah, Bau, it was announced that a total of RM36m was approved for Rela (Adenan Satem – RM8m, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi – RM8m and Najib Razak – RM20m).

In addition, a total of 38.5 acres was allocated for building Sarawak Rela’s main training centre in Lundu, Sarawak. Deputy Home Affair Minister Nur Jazlan then said, “If the government gives, they have to ‘setia berbakti’.” They were also said to be influencers in their communities and that the duty of Rela members is to defend “Bumi Kenyalang” and the (ruling) government. It was then said, “Kamu mesti undi calon N2 Datuk Hendry Harry Jinep.”

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At another event in Kampung Duyoh, organised by Fama together with the agriculture ministry, residents were promised better roads and better infrastructure for the villagers if the Barisan National candidate was elected. It was also heard that there were envelopes of money being passed around after the event but Pemantau could not verify this information.

Threats and intimidation

At an event organised by the tourism ministry in the Serumbu are, Dun N18, Nazri Aziz in his speech mentioned that if the voters of the area elect an opposition leader, he would not bring any tourism-related development into the area. His priority would be only to engage with Barisan National Aduns and not the Aduns from opposition political parties. He also called the people who voted for the opposition “bodoh” multiple times in his speech.

Pemantau also received an anonymous tip: “I am resident of Bau here… I just heard from my friends that Barisan National is giving the money to the houses at the area and told them to vote BN otherwise will warn them to cut off their electricity and water supply…. They are fear and feel scare to vote others…. Feel like ugut.” The message could not be verified, but it is one of the many messages that the Pemantau team has received.

Use of federal resources for state election campaigns

Other ministerial departments such as the agriculture ministry and tourism ministry organised events in rural villages which saw multiple promises being made and the distribution of goods such as ovens, sewing machines, rice bags, harvesting tools and water tanks to selected villagers.

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Such events always finished with a call to vote for the Barisan National candidate or such assistance would no longer be available to them. An example of such an event was “Program Kampung Duyoh – Perasmian Pusat Penjaja” on 4 May 2016.

Other comments

Members of Pemantau noted that for certain candidates, the costs incurred for one event alone meant it could not possibly have been held without violating the expenditure maximum limit of RM100, 000 as provided under Section 19 of the Elections Offences Act 1954.

Pemantau highlights the fact that Election Commission officers were present at certain events and were seen to take no action or  make any comment to the candidates about any of the election offences witnessed by Pemantau members.

In conclusion, not only were there a blatant disregard of election laws, this was an alarming sign that there was a broken democratic system at work during the Sarawak  state elections which is accepted as a norm. The checks and balances mechanism supposedly represented by the Election Commission, which was meant to prevent such practices, is non-existent.

The Election Commission has failed to ensure that the Sarawak state elections were conducted in a clean, free and fair way. The only way to counter any remaining election fraud that would happen tomorrow is by voting in big masses. We urge everyone who is eligible to vote to use their democratic right and to go out and vote.

We also urge election commission chairman Hashim Abdullah to resign immediately for failing in his duty to ensure that elections are conducted in a clean and fair way.

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The Sarawak Pemantau committee and the Bersih 2.0 steering committee

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