After EC’s warning, Pakatan denies hosting free dinner in Rantau

Pakatan Harapan candidate, Dr S. Streram is pictured while on his campaign at Taman Bunga Raya Kuala Sawah in Rantau March 31, 2019. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Pakatan Harapan candidate, Dr S. Streram is pictured while on his campaign at Taman Bunga Raya Kuala Sawah in Rantau March 31, 2019. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, April 3 — Pakatan Harapan (PH) did not directly organise a free dinner in Rantau yesterday, PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said.

Despite attending along with the pact’s Rantau by-election candidate Dr S. Streram, Anwar said the event was organised and hosted by a non-governmental group.

The Election Commission (EC) previously warned that offering free meals could constitute an offence under existing laws.

“The NGO is the one that invited us, so (you) have to ask them why they provided food,” Anwar was quoted as saying by Sinar Harian today.

“The candidate (was) also in attendance? That, you have to ask the relevant NGO. I came due to an invitation.”

It is unclear who is behind the event as a representative of the team handling the dinner insisted that it was done by residents of Taman Sri Ramai, with local PKR leaders ostensibly there to only provide help.

The person also insisted the food was provided as a sign of appreciation for attendees and that no campaign funds were used.

In its report, Sinar Harian noted the programme with the Indian community of Bukit Sawah in Taman Sri Ramai featured free meals for all who attended.

It said both Anwar and Dr Streram delivered speeches there, with other PH leaders whom it did not identity also present.

Deputy EC Azmi Sharom previously said that offering food or drinks — regardless of whether it will be provided before or after voting — was a violation under Section 8 of Election Offences Act.

Polling for the Rantau by-election is on April 13.