Bersih out to get offenders ahead of Ramadan by-election in Sandakan

Sabah Bersih vice-chairman Beverly Joeman (left) with Sabah Bersih coordinator Asraf Sharafi.

KOTA KINABALU: Bersih 2.0 today launched a new campaign called Pemantau to encourage voters to make complaints on irregularities and cheating ahead of the Sandakan by-election next month.

Sabah Bersih said the campaign aims to get Sabahans to cooperate in exposing election offences and to hold politicians accountable throughout the campaign period.

“We urge all Sabahans to monitor this by-election together to ensure the election process and campaigns are done according to the law and constitution,” said Sabah Bersih vice-chairman Beverly Joeman at a press conference here today.

Joeman said Pemantau will focus on offences such as bribery whether with cash or kind, undue influence on voters such as free food, abuse of government machinery and resources, use of government influence to get votes, as well as intimidation, violence and harassment of any kind.

“Let Sabah be an example to the whole nation of what a clean, free and fair election looks like,” she said.

The Sandakan election was called following the death of incumbent Stephen Wong, and will likely see a showdown between Pakatan Harapan (PH) and PBS. Barisan Nasional (BN) has said it is staying out of the contest.

The federal seat is a DAP stronghold, with the party today naming Wong’s daughter, Vivien Wong, as the PH candidate.

Polling day will be on May 11, after a two-week campaign period.

Joeman expects candidates to take advantage of the fasting month by holding breaking of fast functions as well as giving away the traditional “bubur lambuk” dish.

She said candidates are not allowed to use such occasions to campaign, adding that they should not deliver any speeches during such events.

“As for the giving away of the bubur lambuk, that is a no-no especially since it can be seen as an attempt to influence voters,” she said.

She reminded candidates that BN’s free dinners during the 2018 general election campaign in Cameron Highlands led the election court to cancel its victory, triggering a by-election there in January.

Joeman said the Election Commission should move faster on the reports of election offences filed by Bersih this year.

“We hope that they will hurry up a bit. For example, giving free dinners by a certain political party in the Rantau by-election was an offence,” she said.

The public can file their complaints with Sabah Bersih at 014-5724007 or email [email protected].