Report lodged over PKR politician’s food coupons in Rantau

Michael Teo at an event to present food coupons to 300 children in Rantau. (Facebook pic)

SEREMBAN: Independent candidate Malar Rajaram has urged the police to investigate a PKR politician who provided food coupons to underprivileged students in Rantau, saying it was a violation of election laws.

Malar, who lodged a police report on the matter today, said Miri MP Dr Michael Teo’s act of distributing food coupons worth RM75,000 to 300 students before nomination day for the Rantau by-election was wrong.

She said she was taking up the Election Commission’s call to lodge a police report on any violation of the Election Offences Act 1954.

“I wanted to notify the public, the police and the EC so that they (the authorities) can look into it. Without a police report, the authorities can’t investigate,” she said.

Section 8 of the act states that providing food, drink or refreshments either before, during or after a campaign is considered to be “treating”.

The EC previously said that Teo’s action fell under a grey area in the election law, which does not have a clear definition on the period “before” an election.

Teo had also come under criticism from electoral watchdog Bersih 2.0.

Malar said she was confident that action would be taken against Teo. She has also handed to EC a copy of her police report.

Teo had said PKR’s Dr Streram Sinnasamy, the Pakatan Harapan (PH) candidate for the April 13 Rantau by-election, had asked him to carry out the food coupon programme.

Meanwhile, Malar said she would get in touch with parents of the children who received the coupons.

“I have issued an ultimatum,” she said. “By April 8, the five schools must return the coupons to the donor.

“If they don’t, I will file police reports against the five schools because it is an election offence. The schools should have known better,” she added.

Streram later said it was Malar’s right to lodge a police report if she felt election offences were being committed, adding that he would leave it to the EC to decide what do.

“As far as I’m concerned, I don’t think (it is) an election offence because we gave food to the poor,” he told reporters.

Apart from Streram, Malar is facing Barisan Nasional’s Mohamad Hasan and another independent candidate Mohd Nor Yassin.