PETALING JAYA: Bersih 2.0 recorded 35 cases of election offences and misconduct during the recently-concluded Semenyih polls, the highest among the six by-elections held since the 14th General Election.
Eight of them were undue influence, five involved treating and gifting, three covered the promotion of ill-will using race and religion, two involved political violence and harassment, and 17 offences on polling day itself.
The ruling Pakatan Harapan has been accused of committing 21 of the offences while Barisan Nasional is said to have committed 13.
Another case was committed by an unknown person, said the electoral watchdog’s chairman Thomas Fann.
“It’s by far the highest number of offences recorded by Bersih,” he said.
Fann expressed his disappointment over the ongoing use of treating and gifting, saying that all five such offences 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, and added that campaign promises should not be exclusive to only one constituency.
He also took Barisan to task for relying on racial and religious sentiments to promote ill-will and hostility during the campaign period.
Umno deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan was chided for saying that there were too many penumpang (passengers) in Parliament, implying that there were too many non-Malay MPs.
“It’s sad that politicians need to stoop to this level to win seats and power. This is an election offence for sure.
“But beyond that, the cost of winning that seat has created a lot of ill-will in our community,” he said, adding that it would submit the observation report to the Election Commission, Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and the police.
Barisan’s Zakaria Hanafi won with 19,780 votes, a majority of 1,914 against Pakatan’s Muhammad Aiman Zainali who garnered 17,866 votes.
PSM’s Nik Aziz Afiq Abdul and independent candidate Kuan Chee Heng received 847 and 725 votes respectively.
On the coming Rantau by-election, Fann urged Mohamad to take up a debate challenge they are organising after Barisan candidates in the last two by-elections refused to do so.
He said the debate would be a platform for all prospective candidates to state their position and commitment for the state constituency.
“It’s not a debate where you have a winner or loser, or candidates will be put in an awkward position. It’s a platform for all candidates to speak up,” he said, adding that all candidates in the upcoming Rantau by-election should participate.