MACC chief says investigation on vote buying based on law, not personal interpretation

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 24 — Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief commissioner Tan Sri Azam Baki today said that investigation on vote buying will be based on the law and not personal interpretation.

He told English daily The Star that the Election Offences Act 1954 was very clear on the statutory definition of vote buying.

“Section 10 (a) of the Act is very clear and whatever layman terms used to defend an argument is a mere personal interpretation.

“Name it ‘sedekah’ (alms) or ‘contribution’, the law deems it a bribe paid to voters — regardless whether the voters solicit it or not,” he was quoted as saying.

He reportedly pointed to Section 10(a) for its definition of bribery before, during, or after elections, which did not differentiate between the crime being committed by a candidate or a representative on the candidate’s behalf.

Azam’s comments were in connection with the arguments regarding whether it was vote buying or charity to provide cash handouts to voters during the election period.

On Sunday, Perikatan Nasional (PN) secretary-general Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin admitted that his coalition’s election candidates had given money to voters, but added it was at the request of the voters themselves.

He said that voters would come up to their candidates during the campaigning to ask for financial aid.

Before that, PAS president Tan Sri Abdul Hadi Awang reportedly said on Saturday that giving cash handouts to voters before an election does not amount to bribery.

He called it “charity” instead, adding that although it was against the rules of the Election Commission, it was what some voters wanted.

This had followed viral videos and police reports lodged against PN for alleged vote buying.