Seeing wrong in Hadi’s ‘donation’ remarks, Bersih says political funding law urgently needed

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 25 — The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih) has renewed its call for a political financing law, citing PAS president Tan Sri Abdul Hadi Awang justifications for giving money to voters before elections.

In a statement today, the group’s steering committee also proposed a that permanent standing committee on electoral matters and multiparty democracy be formed at the next parliamentary meeting, to examine the political funding law and the country’s electoral system.

“The statement by Abdul Hadi Awang that only candidates and their agents are forbidden from giving handouts is not in line with Section 10 (Bribery) of the Election Offences Act 1954,” Bersih said.

The law states that it is illegal for any person to directly or indirectly give cash or other valuables to voters, with the purpose of getting a candidate elected — before, during and after an election.

Hadi, on January 21, had defended such cash handouts in the wake of accusations that the practice had mired the results of the Kuala Terengganu, Marang and Kemaman constituencies in the 15th general election.

On January 16, Terengganu Umno announced that it had filed a petition with the Kuala Terengganu High Court on January 3, to annul the election results in those three constituencies.

To note, Hadi is the Marang MP.

Bersih further said that the matter should be investigated by the police or the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission so that charges may be filed if merited and for the courts to decide the matter.

It added that the drafting and tabling of the political funding law should not be delayed because it would give the perception to the public that this government is not serious in addressing the problems of election bribery and money politics.

A Bill for such a law has been in discussion since the Najib administration but has yet to be tabled despite the Ismail Sabri administration’s pledge to do so in October last year.

The October 2022 parliamentary meeting was cut short after just a week of opening, as Parliament was dissolved to make way for the 15th general election.