Semenyih by-election: Bersih lodges police reports over election offences

Bersih 2.0 executive director Yap Swee Seng speaks to reporters at the Semenyih police station March 2, 2019. ― Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Bersih 2.0 executive director Yap Swee Seng speaks to reporters at the Semenyih police station March 2, 2019. ― Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

SEMENYIH, March 2 — Electoral watchdog Bersih 2.0 has lodged four police reports over election offences allegedly committed by Barisan Nasional (BN) and Pakatan Harapan (PH) at several Semenyih by-election polling centres.

Bersih 2.0 executive director Yap Swee Seng said the alleged offences observed ranged from the setting up of ‘pondok panas’, vote canvassing, placement of political party symbols within the 50-metre radius of the polling centre and loitering for the purpose of campaigning.

“All of these are offences listed under Section 26 the Election Offences Act 1954. They (political parties) have been provided two weeks of campaigning and campaigning must stop at 12 midnight on polling day.

“Yet we are still seeing such attempts taking place at polling stations. That is why we are lodging the police reports for the authorities to ascertain the cases,” he said when met at the Semenyih police station here.

He said photographic and video evidence collected by Bersih 2.0 election observers will be given to the authorities for further investigation.

According to Yap, the alleged offences were committed at four polling stations within schools namely SMK Bandar Rinching, SK Bandar Rinching, SK Kantan Permai and Sekolah Rendah Agama Batu 3.

“As for the two schools in Bandar Rinching, we observed the presence of “pondok panas” (voters’ reference booths) being set up in the vicinity of the polling centres.

“In SK Kantan Permai, we observed political parties ferrying voters to the polling centre and there were also political party supporters loitering around to take down details of voters,” he said.

When asked if an election candidate should be disqualified for breaching election rules, Yap said the punishment should be proportionate to the severity of offence committed.

“The Act only outlines general provisions and does not distinguish major or minor offences.

“Perhaps in the future the Election Commission and Parliament can refine the laws,” he said.