More offences in Semenyih than previous 5 by-elections, says Bersih

Bersih 2.0 chairman Thomas Fann (centre) with director Yap Swee Seng (right) and steering committee member Alex Johnson (left) at a press conference to announce its findings on the Semenyih by-election.

PETALING JAYA: Bersih 2.0 said 35 election offences were committed by both Pakatan Harapan and Barisan Nasional during the recent Semenyih by-election, topping the number of cases recorded in the five by-elections held since the May 9 polls.

The electoral watchdog’s chairman Thomas Fann said it showed both PH and BN’s “ignorance” over election laws, even as the country prepares for another by-election next month.

“We want to know what happened to reports to the various authorities, and why there was no action taken to alleged offenders,” he told a press conference today to announce Bersih’s report on the March 2 by-election, which saw PH being defeated for the second time since its historic rise to power last year.

Bersih said among the offences included treating voters to gifts, giving undue influences to voters, intimidation, political violence and speeches that promoted ill-will between communities.

Fann said election offences continued to be committed as there was no attempt at charging culprits in the courts.

He said the authorities must explain to the public the status of previous complaints.

He cited as an example money given to villagers during the Cameron Highlands by-election campaign, adding that reports were lodged with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

“But what happened after that? MACC should inform the public what happened to their investigation,” he said.

In the Semenyih by-election, BN’s Zakaria Hanifa got 19,780 votes, defeating his closest rival, PH’s Muhammad Aiman Zainali, by a 1,914 vote-majority.

Two other candidates, PSM’s Nik Aziz Afiq Abdul and independent Kuan Chee Heng, got 847 and 725 votes respectively.

Another by-election will be held for the Rantau state seat in Negeri Sembilan on Apr 13, following the Federal Court’s decision to nullify Mohamad Hassan’s victory.

Mohamad, the acting Umno president, won the seat uncontested after PKR’s Streram Sinnasamy was not allowed to file his nomination papers.

Bersih said it hoped all parties would observe election laws during the campaign in Rantau.

Fann also hoped Mohamad would agree to a debate with his rivals.

“This debate does not determine who wins or loses or even to embarrass them,” said Fann.

“We want to give a platform for all candidates to state their views and commitment to the constituency,” he said.

A similar attempt by Bersih to hold a debate between all four candidates in Semenyih was called off following the refusal of the BN and PH candidates to participate.