PETALING JAYA, March 8 — The recently concluded Semenyih by-election recorded 35 election offences, which is the highest since the 14th general election last year, electoral watchdog Bersih 2.0 disclosed today.
Bersih 2.0 chairman Thomas Fann said Pakatan Harapan (PH) tops the list at 21 cases followed by Barisan Nasional at 13 cases while one was committed by an unknown party.
“We are quite disappointed that the two major parties that are contesting continues to ignore election laws and committed such offences.
“We would also like to commend Parti Sosialis Malaysia and the independent candidate as they put a lot of effort to observe election laws,” he said while presenting Bersih 2.0's Semenyih by-election observation report at its headquarters here.
On March 2, BN's candidate Zakaria Hanafi was announced the winner after he obtained a 1,914 majority against PH's Muhammad Aiman Zainali and wrested the state seat back from the ruling coalition after just nine months.
According to Bersih 2.0's report, the breakdown of the 35 cases were; undue influence (8 cases), treating and gifts (5 cases), political violence, intimidation and harassment (2 cases) promotion of ill-will or hostility (3 cases) and problems on polling day (17 cases).
Fann said Bersih 2.0 was disappointed with the continual use of treating despite it being an election offence as all five cases recorded were done by PH and also noted an increase of undue influence by the government in election campaign.
“We strongly condemn such blatant and open abuse of government resources for electioneering which created an uneven playing-field for other candidates.
“We are not saying that during by-election all government function should stop. We are saying that when it comes to by-election, government of the day must not make promises exclusively to the contested constituency,” he said.
On promoting of ill-will and hostility, Fann said all three offences were committed by BN politicians as noted by BN's secretary-general Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz's inflammatory remark on race and religion during a ceramah.
“I think it is sad politicians descend to such levels in order to win power and seat, while in the process of tearing up community by promoting ill-will.
“This is an issue of grave concern which Bersih 2.0 hope the authorities will take necessary action whether its under the Election Offences Act or Penal Code to curb such politicking,” he said.
However Fann applauded the Election Commission (EC) for several improvements made such as posting information card detailing one's polling station which resulted in greater speed and efficiency in the polling process that led to the highest recorded turnout rate among all by-elections.
“Despite the improvements, there were no follow ups to the various reports lodged on election offences and this may affect public perception as the offences have become public interests.
“Bersih 2.0 will submit the observation report to the EC, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and the police as we call upon the enforcement agencies to take immediate action against the perpetrators,” he said.
The public may read the full report on Bersih 2.0's website at www.bersih.org.