KOTA KINABALU, Jan 24 — Bersih 2.0 in Sabah here recorded a total of 27 offences at the recent Kimanis by-election here with 19 allegedly committed by the Parti Warisan Sabah/Pakatan Harapan side and eight committed by the opposition Barisan Nasional.
Bersih 2.0 Sabah vice chairman Beverly Joeman said that the observed eight cases of the use of government resources, fourteen cases of canvassing for votes and transporting voters on polling day, three cases of treating and two cases of inciting hatred.
“This is an increase compared to the previous Sandakan by election last year,” she said.
She said that offenses began with the announcement of development projects during the campaigning period with Warisan ministers totaling RM12,845 million, showing an increase of this tactic from the government’s side.
Joeman said there were eight announcements — from Rural Development minister Datuk Ewon Benedick, Infrastructure Development minister Datuk Peter Anthony, federal Agriculture and Agro-based Industries minister Salahuddin Ayub and the Sabah chief minister Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal relating to development projects that were announced during the campaigning period.
“This is an increase compared to Sandakan which was minimal — only one or two cases. In the Tanjung Piai by election, there were 10 offences recorded,” said Joeman.
“Bersih 2.0 had reminded the political parties numerous times in the past that the act of using government resources and announcement of projects is unethical during the election period. Elections should be based on the principle of clean and fair elections so as to provide a level playing field to all contesting parties and to ensure that the people could evaluate their choices without undue influence,” she said.
However, the most election offenses were committed on polling day, that is the incidence of party supporters canvassing for votes at almost all polling stations observed.
“BN and PAS canvassers were more aggressive in showing their presence at polling stations, wearing BN shirts, and waving BN flags and posters of their candidate. Meanwhile, canvassers of Warisan did not wear their party shirt/logo but showed the ‘V’ sign hand gesture as a symbol to vote for their candidate which is Number 2 on the ballot paper,” she said.
The electoral watchdog also saw parties transporting voters during polling day, although it could not be immediately ascertained which parties the vehicles belonged to.
“We also identified one “Pondok Panas” by Barisan Nasional at the SM St Patrick Membakut polling station. We urge the Enforcement Team (PPKPR) and the Election Commission (EC) to strictly prohibit campaign activities such as canvassing of votes, and transporting voters,” she said.
Joeman also commended the EC for improved voting facilities for the disabled and elderly and the introduction of cameras at each polling stream.
Bersih 2.0 proposed that the EC implement a cooling-off period of two days for the general election and one day for the by-election so that campaigning activities can cease before polling day and stop election machinery so that voters can go out to vote with a calm and rational mind.