Malaysia

Election handouts are bribes, says Transparency International

Low: When you give these sweeteners, what would be the motivation? Any enticing for votes, we believe that is corruption.Low: When you give these sweeteners, what would be the motivation? Any enticing for votes, we believe that is corruption.KUALA LUMPUR, March 30 — Any type of handout and goodies to voters during elections is a form of corruption, an anti-graft watchdog group said today.

Datuk Paul Low, president of Transparency International Malaysia said that any “enticement” for votes during elections was considered “corrupt practice”.

“There have been a lot of arguments on vote buying, enticing voters via money, 'sewing machines', we believe that this is corrupt practice.

“When you give these sweeteners, what would be the motivation? Any enticing for votes, we believe that is corruption,” said Low.

Although he did not name anyone, it is believed that Low’s remarks were intended for Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz, following the latter's statement in Parliament yesterday.

The minister had said that handout and goodies in the form of financial assistance to voters during elections was not a form corruption because it was the federal government’s way of “fulfilling its promises” and manifestos.

“We have already promised that if we won we would fulfil (our manifesto)... for example a sewing machine, if we do not give it during elections we will give it after elections, is that a crime? We cannot stop this because well, we will be giving it after (elections),” said the minister during a reply to PKR Ketereh MP Ab Azizi Kadir.

The PKR MP had asked the government to state whether it considered financial assistance during elections or by-elections as a form of corruption.

Nazri also said that a total of RM11,185,542.93 (11.2) million was spent on 16 by-elections since 2008.

“Unfortunately we do not have adequate laws to address this,” said Low today.

Although he acknowledged the fact that even Pakatan Rakyat (PR) offers election promises in terms of development, he coined the “promises” as a “borderline case”.

“Unless the EC comes out with specific guidelines, I don’t think that’s corruption. These are borderline case but you cross the line when you say 'here is one thousand, vote for my party,'” said Low.

The TI-M president called on federal and state governments to voluntarily refrain from actions that results in unfair advantage, and to push for a “level playing field.”

“This should begin with equal and free access to public media,” said Low.

 

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