Bersih 2.0: Widespread vote-buying in villages during Sabah polls

Voters wearing protective masks queue up to cast their votes during the Sabah state election in SK Pulau Gaya September 26, 2020. In a report released today, Bersih 2.0 claimed that Warisan Plus coalition had committed 22 offences while the Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) parties had committed 18 offences and are both guilty of vote-buying and bribery offences. — Picture by Firdaus Latif
Voters wearing protective masks queue up to cast their votes during the Sabah state election in SK Pulau Gaya September 26, 2020. In a report released today, Bersih 2.0 claimed that Warisan Plus coalition had committed 22 offences while the Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) parties had committed 18 offences and are both guilty of vote-buying and bribery offences. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

KOTA KINABALU, Oct 12 — Election watchdog Bersih 2.0 today revealed that 59 election offences were committed during the recently-concluded Sabah elections, including the widespread use of money to induce voters.

In a report released today, Bersih 2.0 claimed that Warisan Plus coalition had committed 22 offences while the Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) parties had committed 18 offences and are both guilty of vote-buying and bribery offences.

Bersih 2.0 claimed that both sides had at least seven instances where money was involved using it under the pretext of “transport allowance”.

The report singled out Warisan for inducing voters in Kampung Tinusa and Restoran Kak Jue in Sandakan, Gum Gum, Kolombong, Semporna and Pimping in Membakut by distributing RM100 to voters in the areas.

As for GRS, its Kemabong candidate Datuk Jamawi Jaafar and Darau candidate Datuk Jumat Idris were seen handing out RM100 to voters while those in Membakut, Sungai Sibuga, Kampung Tinosa 1 and SK Bingkor were also believed to be handing out cash between RM100 to RM200.

The report also named former chief minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal, from Warisan Plus, who had announced land grants in several districts following the dissolution of the state assembly, which was tantamount to using government assets to campaign.

Shafie also announced a rent exemption for “pasar tamu” market lots.

“Even though the announcement was made before the official campaigning date, election observers were looking into any offences immediately after the dissolution of the state assembly,” said Bersih 2.0 coordinator Asraf Sharafi.

“There were also instances of campaigners setting up election booths, near polling stations. From our observation, we suspect these huts were set up to distribute money to voters,” he said.

Among the observations was also a Perikatan Nasional (PN) election booth distributing official Election Commission (EC) voter cards to voters at the SK Bingkor polling centre in Keningau on polling day.

Bersih chairperson Thomas Fann, who was on duty as an election observer on September 26 at the Sekolah Kebangsaan Bingkor polling station in Keningau said that voters who came to vote would go to the PN “pondok panas” to collect their EC voter cards.

“As they gave them out, the PN volunteers would also write down their voting channels onto a small piece of paper with the logo of PN on it,” he said.

Fann urged the EC to investigate the incident, as it had given the impression that the EC was endorsing PN in that constituency.

Fann added that he would be lodging a report with the EC today.

Fann conceded that in the 10 by-elections and recent Sabah elections, there has been little action taken by authorities whether it is the police, Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission or the EC.

“In the thousands of offences committed, no action has been taken that’s why there’s a sense of immunity and disrespect of election law by political candidates. These offences are made across the board, and very few make conscious efforts to avoid it,” he said.

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