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Vote-buying by any other name … is still an offence

Everyone should be subject to the same rules against vote-buying

On 21 January Pas president Hadi Awang said it was not against election rules for others to distribute money as “charity” during election campaigns.

He claimed existing campaign rules only prohibited election candidates and their representatives from giving cash to voters.

Opposition leader Hamzah Zainudin, for his part, said it was the intention behind cash handouts that mattered most, as some voters had asked for essential aid.

Aliran disagrees with such statements. Section 10(c) of the Election Offences Act 1954 is crystal clear: “every person who, directly or indirectly by himself or by any other person on his behalf, makes any such gift, loan, offer, promise, procurement, or agreement” to induce another person to “procure the election of any person, or the vote of any elector or voter” shall be deemed guilty of the offence of bribery.

Aliran urges the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission to carry out a thorough investigation into this, irrespective of whether the parties or personalities involved are currently in government or in the opposition.

Everyone should be subject to the same rules against vote-buying.

We also call on the MACC to probe the funds received by the major parties before the general election to find out if they came from any illicit sources.

In future, the scope for vote-buying offences should be extended to bar the federal and state governments from providing any initiative or allocating any unusual public expenditure that could be construed as an inducement to influence voters, including civil servants, ahead of polls. Such unusual inducements could take the form of unscheduled cash handouts and the award (or promise of an award) of unusual civil servant salary increments and bonuses in the run-up to polls.

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Aliran also calls for the Election Offences Act to be further strengthened and clarified so that it will be effective in ensuring that elections are free from corruption.

Aliran executive committee
25 January 2023

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.
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