PETALING JAYA: The recently concluded Semenyih polls saw a total of 35 cases of election offences and misconduct, the highest number among the six by-elections held since the 14th General Election, according to the Coalition for Free and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0).
“It’s by far the highest number of offences – recorded by Bersih. There are other groups that observe the election process that we don’t know about,” said its chairman Thomas Fann.
The 35 cases consisted of eight cases of undue influence, five of treating and gifting, three covering the promotion of ill-will using race and religion, two involving political violence and harassment, and 17 offences on polling day itself.
Fann added that in the four-cornered battle, Pakatan Harapan had been accused of committing 21 cases of election offences and misconduct, while Barisan Nasional had 13 cases, and there was one committed by an unknown person.
“None were recorded for Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) and the independent candidate,” he said.
In expressing his disappointment at the ongoing use of treating and gifting, Fann pointed out that all five such cases were committed by Pakatan.
“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 Pakatan ceramah,” he said.
Fann also criticised Pakatan for abusing government machinery during the by-election, saying that promises made during campaigning should not be exclusive to only one constituency.
“A promise shouldn’t also be conditional upon a candidate’s victory in a by-election.
“Because, as the government, you are responsible to all Malaysians whether they voted for the opposition or for the government of the day,” he said.
Meanwhile, Fann also took the Barisan machinery to task for relying on racial and religious sentiments to promote ill-will and hostility during campaigning.
He described remarks by Barisan secretary-general Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz on the appointment of non-Malays into top government positions as inflammatory.
He also chided Umno deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan for saying that there were too many “penumpang” (passengers) in Parliament, which implied that there were too many non-Malay MPs.
“It’s sad that politicians needed to stoop to this level to win seats and power. This is an election offence for sure, under Section 4A.
“But beyond that, the cost of winning that seat, it has created a lot of ill-will in our community,” he said.
Fann also commended the Election Commission (EC) for sending information cards by post to voters with details of their polling station and channels.
“This resulted in greater speed and efficiency in the polling process and the highest turnout rate among the by-elections held since GE14,” he said.
Fann added that Bersih would submit its observation report to the EC, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) and the police.
“We call on the enforcement agencies to take serious action against the perpetrators of election offences and bring them to justice,” he said.
Barisan’s Zakaria Hanafi won Semenyih with 19,780 votes, a majority of 1,914 against Pakatan’s Muhammad Aiman Zainali who garnered 17,866 votes, Parti Sosialis Malaysia’s Nik Aziz Afiq Abdul (847) and independent candidate Kuan Chee Heng (725).