PETALING JAYA: Bersih today warned of possible repercussions following Anwar Ibrahim’s response to criticisms over his use of a helicopter to visit a Felda settlement, even though it was for pragmatic reasons.
“Arrogant behaviour, as demonstrated by the prime minister, may backfire, as the people will not approve of the misuse of government machinery for campaigning,” the electoral reform group said in a statement.
Earlier today, Anwar said he had the right to use a helicopter that belonged to the government as he was the prime minister. He was responding to criticism by Perikatan Nasional election director Sanusi Nor.
“It’s the government’s. You can’t use it, the prime minister can,” he was reported as saying at an event in Felda Teloi Timur.
Bersih said while the use of government machinery could not be completely prevented while on the campaign trail, politicians should always remain humble.
“They should refrain from flaunting their privileges as if they purchased such machinery with their own money.”
It also suggested that ministers pay pro-rata excess costs for campaign-related activities after completing their official duties.
In this case, such costs would include helicopter fuel or transportation.
“In the interest of transparency and accountability, these costs should be openly declared for public monitoring.”
Bersih said there was an urgent need for Putrajaya to discuss with the opposition on the enactment of new legislation to control decisions, actions, and the use of resources by both caretaker governments and non-caretaker governments during the election period.
“Reforms advocated by the Pakatan Harapan coalition must be implemented without deviation and not merely be empty promises made during election campaigns.”