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BERSIH calls for probe into Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister’s alleged attempt to influence Pulai By-Election

BERSIH, a prominent Malaysian civil society group, has condemned Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi for allegedly trying to sway Pulai voters by linking a housing project’s approval to the Pakatan Harapan candidate’s victory in the ongoing by-election.

BERSIH is calling for an investigation into potential election law violations stemming from Zahid’s controversial remarks.



MALAYSIA: The Coalition for Clean and Fair Election (BERSIH), a prominent Malaysian civil society group, criticized Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) Ahmad Zahid Hamidi for his recent remarks made during an ongoing by-election campaign in the Pulai Parliamentary constituency in Johor.

BERSIH pointed out that the 70-year-old DPM seemed to be attempting to unduly influence Pulai voters by indicating that the approval of a housing project would be contingent upon the victory of the candidate from the Pakatan Harapan (PH) political coalition in the upcoming Pulai by-election, scheduled for 9  September.

On Thursday (7 Sept), BERSIH Chairman, Thomas Fann, accompanied a BERSIH by-election observer who filed a police report against DPM Zahid.

The report alleged manipulation and bribery after the observer came across a video clip suggesting election misconduct by Ahmad Zahid.

DPM Zahid’s alleged controversial remark at a recent event raises concerns

On 3 September, DPM Zahid, visited the Melana Indah Phase 1 Housing Program near Johor Bahru, where he delivered a speech that raised BERSIH’s concerns of undue influence on Pulai voters.

He allegedly stated that the approval of the PPR upgrading project would be contingent upon the Pakatan Harapan (PH) candidate winning the Pulai by-election.

“Why should there be any hindrance to approving (the upgrading project)? There shouldn’t be any issues.”

“I don’t just intend to present it (to the Johor State Housing for approval); I also aim to observe the electoral performance here.”

If not, the application from Datuk Jafni, Chairman of Johor State Housing and Local Government will be ‘looked at’ again, he said.

“While various requests may be submitted, if the ballot boxes don’t favor Brother Suhaizan Kaiat, I will reconsider this application.”

However, he emphasized that voters should not misinterpret his words.

“Because under the MADANI government led by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, every promise he utters and every matter brought to my attention will undoubtedly be conveyed to PM Anwar, for its approval in the best interests of the entire populace, including this Melana Indah PPR, God willing.”

BERSIH calls for investigation into DPM’s controversial speech, citing election law violations

In response to the DPM’s remark, BERSIH promptly issued a statement on Thursday, expressing their strong belief that this speech should be subject to investigation due to their perspective that it contravenes Section 9 for undue influence and Section 10 for bribery under the Election Offences Act of 1954.

“Therefore, through our election observers (Pemerhati), we decided to make a police report at the Johor Bahru Selatan Police Headquarters today (7 Sept).”

The Steering Committee of BERSIH further expounded on their position, emphasizing that the DPM Zahid’s speech contradicts the 3C principle (no conditions, no campaigns, no candidates) outlined by BERSIH for the conduct of non-caretaker governments during the election period.

“Any government announcements or considerations made by non-caretaker governments – in the case of the Pulai and Simpang Jeram by-elections, the Federal and the Johor State Governments – cannot be made with conditions, with candidates present or use government functions to campaign, as was done by Zahid Hamidi.”

BERSIH calls on Malaysian PM Anwar to ensure accountability among cabinet members

Furthermore, BERSIH emphasized the necessity for Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim to take immediate measures to oversee the conduct of his Cabinet members.

They called for the issuance of comprehensive Caretaker and Non-Caretaker Government Guidelines during election periods to prevent any misuse of government resources and machinery for campaigning by ministers.

“It was not the first time the DPM has committed such violations. Previously, a similar speech was made during the recent state elections campaign in Kuala Terengganu.”

“Such conditional announcements of government allocations applies undue pressure on voters to vote freely and such campaign behavior are unlikely to generate support for the government. ”

In their closing statement, BERSIH expressed their hope that the remaining phases of these two by-elections and the upcoming Pelangai by-election will be conducted in a manner that upholds the principles of cleanliness, fairness, and democracy.

The Pulai by-election was necessitated by the sudden passing of Datuk Seri Salahuddin Ayub, the former Malaysian Domestic Trade and Cost of Living Minister, at the age of 61 on 23 July of this year.

The campaign period for the by-election commenced on 26 August, setting the stage for a three-cornered contest featuring Pakatan Harapan (PH) candidate Suhaizan Kaiat, Perikatan Nasional (PN) candidate Zulkifli Jaafar, and independent candidate Samsudin Mohamad Fauzi.

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