The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0) demands that the Electoral Commission and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) take immediate action against the blatant and open abuse of government funds for electioneering, which has occurred throughout the country since the dissolution of Parliament and the state legislative assemblies.
Bersih 2.0 also strongly condemns the action of the caretaker state and federal governments that have been violating principles of caretaker governments. Bersih 2.0 has observed and recorded undue election handouts by politicians using funds from every state and federal government:
Some notable examples of undue government handouts include:
|8 April 2018||Kelantan state government||Kelantan Menteri Besar Ahmad Yakob held a function in Kuantan, Pahang, organised by the Kelantan state government, where he handed out TVs, fans, hampers and other goodies. At the event, he campaigned for Pas.|
|10 April 2018||Terengganu state government||Terengganu Menteri Besar Ahmad Razif Abdul Rahman gave RM100,000 to Tabung Amanah Warisan Polis (TAWP), a yearly contribution of RM50,000 to Persatuan Kebajikan Polis (Perkep), RM400 for every police family and RM200 for every single officer.|
|10 April 2018||Negeri Sembilan state government||Negeri Sembilan Menteri Besar Mohamad Hassan handed out monetary aid to NGOs and needy individuals. The aid, bearing the state government logo, was handed out by the Menteri Besar’s office in Wisma Negeri, Negeri Sembilan state government building.|
|11 April 2018||Penang state government||The Penang State Government gave an additional RM17.5m to Islamic education institutions in the state. The event was held in Permatang Pauh and present at the handover of the funds were Nurul Izzah, Wan Azizah and Mat Sabu. Lim Guan Eng used the handover to dispel allegations he is “anti-Islam”.|
|12 April 2018||Federal government||Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak used an event organised by Spad to announce that 67,000 taxi drivers nationwide would receive the 1Malaysia Taxi Assistance Card (Kad Bantuan Teksi 1Malaysia), worth RM800 each. At the event he said, “I will not forget about taxi drivers, you are a group that is close to the government’s heart…Ladies and gentlemen, if all of you help me, I will definitely help you.”|
|14 April 2018||Selangor state government||The Selangor state government organised functions in Menteri Besar Azmin Ali’s constituencies of Bukit Antarabangsa and Gombak. He handed out cheques, laptops and tablets. When giving the handouts, he said, “This is a compassionate state…Amin, amin, amin, don’t forget to vote.”|
|14 April 2018||Sabah state government||At an event organised by the Public Services Commission, Minister and MP for Tuaran Hajiji Noor gave out RM1,000 to a total of 66 local youth associations and said Barisan Nasional would defend the youth in Tuaran.|
|15 April 2018||Melaka state government||Melaka Chief Minister Idris Haron officiated at the ground -breaking ceremony of the Prima project in Alor Gajah.|
These handouts, given in the guise of government aid by elected politicians, violate the convention of caretaker governments.
Bersih 2.0 reiterates that caretaker government guidelines prohibit combining official visits with electioneering work. Elected officials should not make use of governmental or official machinery, resources, transport or personnel during their electioneering work.
Furthermore, the caretaker government must not use money from the federal or state consolidated funds for the purposes of holding or organising political rallies or meetings. Prior approved programmes or ongoing government aid programmes should be conducted by the civil service and not caretaker ministers or ExCo members.
These guidelines are based on the internationally accepted norms and practices of caretaker governance and were sent by Bersih 2.0 to all political parties in 2017 as part of a memorandum on electoral reforms. Bersih 2.0 will resend the guidelines on caretaker government to all state and federal governments, and call upon the governments to adhere to the principles.
It is not enough to just use the term ‘caretaker’ and to return official cars, but at the same time refuse to adhere to any of the meaningful practices.
So far, despite the brazen handouts, the Electoral Commission and the MACC, along with their much publicised joint task force, have remained silent.
If Electoral Commission chairperson Hashim Abdullah believes these handouts do not have any impact on the fairness of elections, he should say so publicly and let the rakyat judge his reasons. The MACC should also speak out and act against the abuse of government funds and resources.
Additionally, both bodies should produce clear guidelines of what constitutes corrupt practices during the election. Failure to do this would suggest the Electoral Commission and the MACC’s complicity in allowing the denigration of our elections to an open auction with votes up for sale.
The Malaysian public, especially those receiving these handouts, must question why these goodies are being given now and if it is the best use of government funds. Questions must also be raised if this aid, such as BR1M, taxi drivers’ assistance and funding for Islamic schools, could have been done earlier, but were delayed for the purposes of electioneering.
Such ‘goodies’ are not indicative of ‘caring’ governance, but instead show a willingness to manipulate and abuse the civil service and government funds for short-term personal and political gain.
Bersih 2.0 also calls upon all voters to take action. All Malaysians must come out to vote and vote against any candidates that corruptly use government funds as a way to win the election. Vote on the quality of the manifestos and politicians’ track record rather than the size of their wallets.
Whoever wins the election will have access to the same amount of funds, so vote for those who will use such funds in the interest of the rakyat.
Reports on election offences can be made to Bersih 2.0 at aduan.pemantau.org, 011-17721546 (WhatsApp) or 03-79314444 (Hotline).
Bersih 2.0 steering committee
Guidelines for a caretaker government
Prepared by Bersih 2.0 for the 2018 general election
The aim of these guidelines, that accord with accepted international conventions, is to ensure that, during the caretaker period, the federal and state governments conduct themselves appropriately so that, although the ongoing business of government service and administration continues, major decisions and actions must be avoided so that they do not bind an incoming government.
These guidelines serve as broad guidelines. They may be supplemented by documents that contain more specific information that may be found at the Australian Capital Territory 2012 General Election on Guidance on Caretaker Conventions and London Cabinet office on General Election Guidance 2010.
The following guidelines will apply to a caretaker government:
(1) From the time of the dissolution of Parliament or state assembly until the time the incoming government takes office, the federal government and state government shall be a caretaker government and elected officials shall not:
(a) make major policy decisions that are likely to commit an incoming government;
(b) make significant appointments;
(c) enter major contracts or undertakings;
(d) announce any new financial grants in any form whatsoever or promises thereof;
(e) lay foundation stones, etc of projects or schemes of any kind; or
(f) make any new announcements of construction of infrastructure or the carrying out of public projects.
(2) Any official public functions involving the launching of government programmes or initiatives or the distribution of government funds that are pre-planned before dissolution of Parliament or state assembly should not be conducted or attended by elected officials and instead should be the work of the apolitical civil service on behalf of the caretaker government.
(3) The caretaker government whether at the federal or state level shall not use and shall ensure that no cause is given for any complaint that it has used, its official position for the purposes of its election campaign and in particular:
(a) members of the federal government or members of a state executive council shall not combine their official visits with electioneering work and shall not make use of governmental or official machinery, resources, transport or personnel during their electioneering work;
(b) federal or state government machinery, resources, transport and personnel shall not be used in furtherance of the interests of the caretaker government and, in particular, no ministry, department, agency or other instrumentality of government or of a government-linked corporation shall be directed or permitted to hold functions or activities in conjunction with any electioneering work or campaigning activity;
(c) public places and facilities shall not be monopolised by the caretaker government and other parties and candidates shall be allowed the use of such places and facilities on at least the same frequency and on the same terms and conditions by which they are used by the party in power;
(d) the caretaker government shall not, and shall ensure that public servants and authorities under their purview and control do not, use money from the federal or state consolidated funds to issue political advertisements in the newspapers and other media;
(e) the caretaker government shall ensure free and fair access to free-to-air radio, television and other broadcast media;
(f) the caretaker government shall not, and shall ensure that public servants and authorities under their purview and control do not, use money from the federal or state consolidated funds for the purposes of holding or organising political rallies or meetings;
(g) whilst it is the right of public sector employees to participate in the political process they must do so in their private capacity, avoiding any conflict of interest and without displaying their political affiliations while at work;
(h) members of the federal government or members of the state executive council shall not enter any polling station or place of counting except in their capacity as a candidate or voter or authorised agent; and
(i) the caretaker government shall ensure and is responsible for the security of all citizens equally, and shall ensure that all police and enforcement officers shall act without fear or favour in providing such security.