The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0) today released its Semenyih by-election observation report.
Bersih 2.0 has recorded 35 cases of election offences and misconduct throughout the election period. Among them were undue influence (eight cases), treating and gifts (five cases), political violence, intimidation and harassment (two cases), promotion of ill-will or hostility using race and religion in campaigning (three cases) and problems on polling day (17 cases).
These offences and cases of misconduct were committed by Pakatan Harapan (PH) (21 cases) and Barisan Nasional (13 cases). One case was committed by an unknown person and none were recorded for the Parti Sosialis Malaysia and independent candidates.
Bersih 2.0 is disappointed with the continual use of giving treats and gifts despite it being an election offence. All five cases of giving treats and gifts were committed by PH. They were found to be giving out free porridge to mosque-goers and engine oil to motorcyclists on several occasions. Food was also served at some PH ceramahs.
We also noted an increase of undue influence by the government in the election campaign. PH was reported to be handing out letters of offer for housing programme for the hardcore poor (PPRT) to voters. Several ministers and the Selangor menteri besar were found announcing or handing out special allocations to upgrade the clinics, hospital, police stations, hall and mosque in Semenyih.
We strongly condemn such blatant and open abuse of government resources for electioneering- which created an uneven playing-field for the other candidates.
Bersih 2.0 is appalled that speeches were made that promoted ill-will and hostility among the various races and religions during the Semenyih by-election. All three recorded incidents were committed by BN. BN secretary-general Nazri Aziz accused the PH government of giving up the rights of the Malays to others by appointing non-Malays as chief justice, attorney general and finance minister. Umno acting president Mohamed Hassan said Malays feel like visitors in their own country as there are too many ‘penumpang’ (passengers) in Parliament, implying that there were too many non-Malay MPs in the Dewan Rakyat.
Civility took a hit when the Puchong Umno division chief Mohamed Satim Diman equated the deaths of four Selangor State Assembly members as a divine sign. Such insensitive remarks showed a total disregard of the families of the deceased. Bersih 2.0 calls on political leaders to be more civil in their political discourse and to engaged in substantive debate, instead of resorting to incivility and racist rhetoric.
Despite banned by the Electoral Commission (EC), campaigning activities and pondok panas (voter reference booths) outside polling centres were still blatant. Some political parties were found obtaining the identities of voters outside the polling centres, which is a violation of the Election Offences Act. Bersih 2.0 has lodged complaints to the Election Campaign Enforcement Team (PPKPR) and police.
While the police have appointed investigation officers to investigate the four police reports that our observers lodged and taken statements from our observers, we call on them to make sure all those involved are investigated and prosecuted if there is enough evidence. This is crucial to show that the police are serious in assisting the Electoral Commission in enforcing the election law.
Some improvements were made by the Electoral Commission in this by-election.
For the first time, sent by post information cards to the voters with details of their polling stations and voting streams. This resulted in greater speed and efficiency in the polling process and the highest turnout rate among the by-elections held after the 2018 general election.
The Electoral Commission also published the contact details of the enforcement agencies for public circulation and increased the number of enforcement teams from one to four. The teams, however, could be more proactive and responsive in enforcing the election rules.
Berish 2.0 will submit the observation report to the Electoral Commission, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and the police. We call on the enforcement agencies to take serious action against the perpetrators of violations of election laws and bring them to justice.
Members of the public may read the full report on the Bersih 2.0 website.
Bersih 2.0 steering committee