Bersih: 71 cases of misconduct, irregularities in Johor polls

In regard to the use of govt resources and assets, Bersih recorded 11 abuses where 9 were committed by BN

by FAYYADH JAAFAR / pic by BERNAMA

THE Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih) has identified 71 cases of election misconduct and irregularities in the recent Johor state election.

According to Bersih, 38 people were sent to observe the election process in 21 districts and found occurrences of vote buying and bribery, banquets and gift exchanges, undue pressure and intimidation, and the misuse of government resources and assets.

Bersih programme coordinator Mohd Asraf Sharafi said there was a noticeable increase in the number of election irregularities compared to the previous Melaka and Sarawak state elections.

“Our observers have witnessed an incident near SK Serkat at DUN N.56 Kukup where the BN (Barisan Nasional) machinery was found to be bribing voters.

“Besides that, candidates from Pakatan Nasional (PN) were seen opening a stall on Feb 4 and selling goods at cheaper than market prices at the Pagoh farmers’ market. The stall was officiated by PN chairman Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin,” he said when presenting the report yesterday.

In regard to the use of government resources and assets, Bersih recorded 11 abuses where nine were committed by BN.

On Jan 20, Datuk Seri Hasni Mohammad launched the Youth “Mobile Truck” Entrepreneurship Programme while wearing a BN hat and campaigning with the BN machinery.

Meanwhile, Mohd Asraf added, Muhyiddin used his position as chairman of the National Recovery Council to conduct dialogues with people.

Bersih also noted that the relaxation of the election campaign’s standard operating procedures (SOPs) was misused by parties and candidates.

“Although we welcome the relaxation of the SOPs for this election campaign, we found that it benefitted government parties to the detriment of the Opposition.

“The limit of 100 attendees for talks is more detrimental to the Opposition when parties or candidates on the government side are free to use government machinery and resources to campaign in the name of official government programmes.”

He added that the Election Commission (EC) should have allowed Covid-19 patients to cast their votes and provide them with the appropriate facilities to carry out the responsibility by choosing their representatives.

Meanwhile, transporting of voters to the polling station by the EC was also reported to be problematic.

“Transporting voters is an election offence under Section 20 of the Election Offences Act.

“Nevertheless, almost all political parties seem to be transporting voters to and from the polling stations,” said Mohd Asraf, adding that the cars used had the candidate’s stickers and flags on them.

Bersih urged the EC to strictly enforce the law and take action against those who violate it.

“The EC should carry out the responsibility entrusted to them to assist all voters, including those with Covid-19 status, to carry out their responsibilities as citizens.

“The EC also needed to play a greater role in convincing voters to go to the polls in this election,” he said.

Among Bersih’s recommendations included the establishment of an independent voter register audit committee to review and audit the electoral roll following the implementation of Undi 18 and automatic voter registration (PPSA).

It also suggests extending the election period to at least 21 days by amending Section 3(1) of the Election Rules (Conduct of Elections) to allow postal voters in other countries to send ballot papers to Malaysia.

Bersih also recommends the government to provide transportation to voters who are undergoing home quarantine, either persons under investigation, persons under surveillance, or at quarantine centres to go to the polling station.

Bersih also wants to see fairer media access for all parties and candidates involved in the election.

Lastly, Bersih said rural areas should also be given more attention and assistance in terms of accessibility to the voting centres.