KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 14 — Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has denied that Pakatan Harapan (PH) is involved in money politics in the ongoing Cameron Highlands by-election.
“PH does not give out money to anyone,” he told reporters, when asked to comment on photos of party volunteers distributing money to several Orang Asli motorcyclists in the constituency as part of travel “reimbursements”.
However, Dr Mahathir said it was not wrong to dispense cash if it was from government schemes or programmes as it is meant for all.
“If the money is from the government then they gave it out as everyone would get it,” he said after officiating the launch of Astana City Group's new Liquefied Petroleum Gas Composite Cylinder at the Royale Chulan Hotel here today.
Pictures of a woman in a PH shirt giving out cash is being spread on social media, sparking claims from Barisan Nasional leaders that the ruling coalition was engaged in bribery in the election.
DAP’s Lim Kit Siang has since clarified that the woman is a volunteer from DAP’s Impian Malaysia programme doing voluntary social work nationwide, and 60 Orang Asli motorcyclists were paid RM20 per head.
Arvind Bharet, assistant head of the Jelai PH operation centre, has also said its campaign was simply “reimbursing” PH volunteers for petrol costs, and the spending was declared as part of election expense.
Election watchdogs have previously said in their report on the 13th general election that bribery included cash, and travel allowances or reimbursements.
However, yesterday the Coalition of Free and Fair Election (Bersih 2.0) Chairman Thomas Fann have defended PH’s explanation and stated that it is permissible to do so if they account for it as expenses in their election campaign budget as prescribed under the Election Offences Act.
Election Commission chairman Azhar Harun also clarified that only the court can decide whether the travel “reimbursement” is an election offence, urging the public to report any alleged wrongdoings so the facts can be ascertained.