PETALING JAYA: Election flag fever has left some Kuala Lumpur residents hot under the collar, and rising demands are being heard for local authorities to take action.
Political parties have already begun staking out territory by putting up their flags even though it is still a week to nomination of candidates on April 28, when the election campaign officially begins.
But party flags have already sprouted in some places shortly after Parliament was dissolved two weeks ago.
This has upset many residents, including a woman in Taman Bukit Angkasa in Kuala Lumpur, who has questioned authorities for their lack of action in pulling down these flags.
“It is simply an eyesore for residents and all those using these roads,” she said.
The woman, who asked not to be identified, gave an example of the area between Pantai Permai and Pantai Hill Park. She said tents had been erected, banners put up and even the trees have not been spared, with flags draped over them.
“The flags have been actively displayed since April 8, but it was gradual and a few at first. But as of yesterday, it became worse with more and more flags dominating the streets in our area.”
“Does the law actually matter to these local government authorities, because the flags have been put up way too early, and not within the campaigning period.”
Some politicians seem to have taken the law into their own hands to begin campaigning prior to the nomination date, she said.
Under the Election Offences Act, party flags can only be placed by nominated election candidates or their agents, which means that no campaigning is allowed before nomination day
She accused Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) of not taking the matter seriously. “I have even seen DBKL workers around here, and they were looking at the flags being put up, but not doing anything about it,” she said.
Earlier this week, police detained three women who removed 133 Barisan Nasional banners in Taman Tun Dr Ismail.
The women said their complaints to City Hall had fallen on deaf ears. They were detained for investigation on grounds of committing mischief, prompting electoral reform campaigner Maria Chin Abdullah to call for action against those who put up the flags.
Maria described the arrests as unfair, unnecessary and an attempt to intimidate citizens. “Those who had put up the flags should have been charged under the advertisement by-laws and the vandalism by-laws,” she said.
Maria, former head of the Bersih electoral reform group, is a prospective election candidate of Pakatan Harapan.
Polling in Malaysia’s 14 general election will be held on May 9.
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