PETALING JAYA: Electoral watchdog Bersih 2.0 today revealed that Pakatan Harapan (PH) committed the highest number of election offences during the Port Dickson by-election earlier this month.
Its executive director Yap Swee Seng said this was followed by PAS.
“The political parties failed to ensure a clean and fair election, especially the ruling party (PH),” he told reporters during a press conference at the Bersih headquarters today.
“In several instances, the abuse of government assets was noticeably committed by PH,” he said, adding that PH had committed six of the 10 election offences identified throughout the by-election.
“Bersih wishes to emphasise that the government needs to observe administrative neutrality to avoid any future abuse of government assets.”
He also said the government should have shown fairness to all parties, not just the ruling party.
“Especially the ministers who are in office. They should have demonstrated neutrality, differentiating between their roles as ministers and as campaigning politicians.”
He gave the example of an awards ceremony for army veterans, where Anwar Ibrahim was the only candidate invited.
Adding that this was “clearly” a government function held on government premises, Yap said invitations should have been issued to all other candidates as well.
“To avoid blurring the lines between government events and political events, ministers should avoid conducting such activities in the future,” he said.
He urged political parties, especially the ruling party, to give their full cooperation to the Election Commission (EC), saying that without this, the country would never see clean and fair elections.
“They have to ensure that they carry out the reforms the people wanted, and not return to corrupt ways,” he added.
He also advised the EC to draw clear guidelines to inform political parties which activities were allowed and which were not.
“These are stated in the law, but people don’t go and read the law.”
He highlighted the practice of holding “free” dinners, saying it was clearly stated in the laws governing election offences that any expenses incurred must be included under the candidate’s expenses.
“This includes free dinners, whether organised by the candidate or election agents, as the candidate is campaigning at these functions.
“Otherwise you will have so many people throwing so many free dinners and concerts when expenditure should be equal for all candidates.”
Yap urged the EC to organise briefings in the future so that contesting candidates would no longer be able to claim ignorance of such offences.