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Wanted: a clean and fair election

  • The earlier court verdict nullifying the election results in Cameron Highlands and the latest suspected vote-buying incident illustrate the fact that indeed we need to work a lot harder to ensure a clean and fair election.

Sin Chew Daily

Incumbent Cameron Highlands MP Sivarraajh was disqualified by the court for vote-buying during the 14th general elections. Unfortunately Pakatan Harapan is suspected of doing the same thing during the by-election campaign this time.

Someone posted a pictures of a woman in PH T-shirt distributing cash to a group of orangaslis, whom PH leaders claimed were volunteers receiving their petrol money, not vote-buying.

However, the opposition is still not happy with the explanation, accusing the PH government of practicing double standards in bribery.

Bersih 2.0 subsequently clarified that under Section 19 of the Election Offences Act, election expenses not exceeding RM200,000, including transport allowances paid to volunteers, do not constitute an election offence.

This, nevertheless, remains controversial, too.

MCMC has come under public censure for being unprofessional in investigating the social media user uploading the picture. It should instead probe the suspected vote-buying incident first and not the whistleblower.

A picture alone will not tell too much, and the identity of the volunteers as well as the actual amount and nature of cash paid to them have to be ascertained first.

As the ruling coalition, PH should lead by example and manage all election-related expenses more professionally, and must have a comprehensive mechanism and complete records in hand so that the actual amount of cash received by each volunteer will be fully transparent and clear.

And since the payout is in the form of transport allowance, it should be accurately recorded as part of the candidate's election expenses for presentation to the election commission.

Every election invariably involves expenses, and the involvement of cash is always a sensitive thing. Everything has to be supported by detailed and unambiguous details.

Under the provision of Section 10 of the Election Offences Act, any individual attempting to influence a voter by way of offering cash, loan or gift will be deemed guilty of bribery. This must be handled with care among political parties taking part in this by-election, including PH, especially if money is involved.

Now that a police report has been lodged, we should leave it to the authorities to carry out the investigation and not to make additional guesses.

In the meantime, the EC, MACC and police must closely monitor the campaign activities of all candidates as well as their parties to make sure no one goes against the election rules.

The earlier court verdict nullifying the election results in Cameron Highlands and the latest suspected vote-buying incident illustrate the fact that indeed we need to work a lot harder to ensure a clean and fair election.

First and foremost the ruling coalition must stop all acts of power abuse. A clean, fair and free election is only possible if the opposition works hand in hand with the ruling party to stop all forms of money politics along with close supervision from civic organizations, not with empty talks and zero action.

 

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