Following tip-offs from the public, an Aliran special investigation team checked out a shoplot in Penang and came away astounded by what was happening in broad daylight.
Yesterday, Aliran members received tip-offs from the public about a payout to voters:
… it is payout time for voters in the Parliamentary constituency of Balik Pulau and the three state seats under it. Voters there are given RM200 each by don’t know who.
You may file a report on this menace as the exercise to pay voters is ongoing. I saw it yesterday, where long queues formed outside a shophouse in Sungai Dua, Penang. Opposite TESCO extra, behind Magnum 4D. This outlet which (allegedly) collects illegal 4d bets and also (acts) as an illegal gambling centre is paying out, and the exercise is continuing today, I was told.
Another member of the public sent us a tip-off with this message:
Attached promissory note given by agents of BN Bayan Lepas. In the event of BN victory in Bayan Lepas, RM160 will be paid to the holder (see voucher above).
This receipt shows “S38”, which presumably relates to the N38 Bayan Lepas state seat. As it turned out, N38 was won by Noordin Ahmad of the BN, who increased his majority from 399 votes in 2008 to 458 this time.
An Aliran special investigation team decided to follow through on these tip-offs. We found the shophouse at about 11.15am today with a long line of people waiting in the corridor. At the ground floor was a little outlet with a Celcom sign with a cloth banner hanging outside saying: “Give me 5”.
The primary focus appeared to be the Balik Pulau parliamentary seat, which was won by Hilmi Yahaya. He polled 22318 votes, defeating the PKR candidate, Muhammad Bakhtiar Wan Chik, by a 1539-vote majority.
This was a ‘winnable’ seat for the BN as in the 2008 general election, Yusmadi Yusoff of PKR had clinched the seat, squeezing through with a 708-vote majority. (Yusmadi was not selected this time around to defend the seat for PKR.)
We managed to get hold of two slips from people who had been standing in line. Both returned disappointed when they found out they were not eligible to claim their money as the BN candidates had failed to win in their respective areas.
A woman and her daughter showed us their voucher inscribed with S35. S35 presumably relates to N35 Batu Uban, won by PKR’s Dr T Jayabalan. The two women were crest-fallen: “We were unable to claim the money as the BN candidate didn’t win.”
Similarly the holder of S32 was unable to claim his “winnings”. S32 presumably relates to N32 Seri Delima, a seat won by Sanisvara Nethaji Rayer a/l Rajaji of the DAP. No win for the BN in that seat.
But those under N38 Bayan Lepas and N40 Teluk Bahang (both won by the BN) were able to receive the money, according to our conversations with a couple of successful claimants, which we recorded on audio.
Apparently, the payouts today were being made from 11.00am to 7.00pm, and this was the third day of payments. Look at this long line of people today:
Incredibly, the organisers were brazenly conducting this payout just nine doors away from a police station in the next block. Unfortunately, the police were out on patrol. This was the sign at the front door of the station:
Payouts were also made yesterday until the evening. Those who came late were told to come again today as payments for the day had already been made.
Over in Pulau Betong, also under the Balik Pulau parliamentary seat, something similar was happening, according to new Bayan Baru MP Sim Sze Tzin of PKR. At a shack in a kampung next to a seafood eatery, some 200 people were queuing up in four lines of about 50 people each to collect amounts ranging from RM160 to RM200, similar to what was being paid out in the shoplot we checked.
The vouchers indicated these were for S38 (presumably N38 Bayan Lepas) and mostly for S39 (presumably N39 Pulau Betong), said Sim.
N38 Bayan Lepas was won by Noordin Ahmad of Umno-BN with an increased majority of 458 votes (previously 399). Farid Saad of Umno-BN won the N39 Pulau Betong seat with a majority of 395 votes, up from 294 in 2008.
Sim said that when he and and former Penang Speaker Abdul Halim Hussain turned up at Pulau Betong, the organisers of the payout fled from the scene. Abdul Halim had just lost in the N40 Teluk Bahang state seat to an Umno-BN candidate by 801 votes. N40 is the third seat in P53 Balik Pulau, along with N38 Bayan Lepas and N39 Pulau Betong.
Bakhtiar, who lost in Balik Pulau, made a report at the Pulau Betong Police Station, and it was accepted, Sim added. But he was also told that the authority with the proper jurisdiction in this matter is the MACC.
Abdul Halim meanwhile is expected to lodge a report with the MACC.
If this sort of thing can happen in broad daylight in a developed state like Penang, just imagine what is going on in the rural and interior areas where there is little public scrutiny. The mind boggles.
Clean and fair elections? You tell us.