Stand firm in barring government leaders from abusing public assets while campaigning

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The new Electoral Commission line-up in the new Malaysia

Aliran fully supports the Electoral Commission’s rule disallowing ministers and deputy ministers from campaigning in by-elections during office hours.

Aliran also fully backs the rule that incumbent government officials, including ministers or deputy ministers, should not be allowed to deploy government assets when they campaign for their party candidates in by-elections or general elections.

The PM has lamented that the restrictions on the use of government assets and on ministers campaigning during office hours are “unusual”.

But Bersih 2.0 in its statement has correctly pointed out the following: “Restricting political or other activity of public officials outside the scope of their office is in line with the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 51/50 ‘Action against Corruption’.”

As the PM has publicly stated that he plans to ask the Electoral Commission to reconsider and presumably relax some of the existing rules, Aliran would like to urge the commission as a fully independent and neutral body to stand firm and resolute on this matter.

As far as possible, a ruling government should not be allowed to take advantage of the power of incumbency. History has shown how the past regime had no qualms in abusing this advantage. The leaders in the new government need only reflect on all the disadvantages they faced when in opposition to realise we never had a level playing field during past elections.

We expect the new Malaysia to strive towards being a mature democracy. All Malaysians should support and rally behind the Electoral Commission’s efforts in ensuring that elections in our country are free and fair.

READ MORE:  A Najib for all seasons

Aliran executive committee

16 May 2019

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