Bribing of voters in focus as Malaysia polls near

PETALING JAYA • The offer of a travel allowance to entice voters to return to their hometowns to vote is deemed a bribe, said the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), answering a key question often asked when the general election is near.

Its deputy chief commissioner (operations) Azam Baki said that in the eyes of the law, offering voters any form of inducement, including cash or gifts, is considered bribery.

He gave as an example a voter who is paid RM50 (S$16) by a political party so that he or she votes for a particular candidate.

But Datuk Azam told Sin Chew Daily in an interview that giving out aid such as rice or a donation to the poor does not constitute a bribe. And there is also nothing wrong in making election pledges, he said.

"During the campaign period, political parties will usually make all kinds of promises, such as to build more houses. This is not bribery," he said.

The question of what is acceptable for political parties to offer voters often colours election campaigns. With election fever building up, the MACC has reminded all political parties and candidates that anyone caught giving bribes will be disqualified. Malaysia's next general election is due in the next 12 months.

With election fever building up, the MACC has reminded all political parties and candidates that anyone caught giving bribes will be disqualified.

Mr Azam said once the Election Commission announces the date of the general election, a law enforcement team consisting of MACC officials and the police would be set up to monitor graft activity in the polls.

"If the team receives any report from the public, such cases will be investigated under the Election Commission Act, Anti-Corruption Act and Penal Code," he said.

The MACC, he added, has no intention of seeking amendments to the law to make it mandatory for all candidates to declare their assets. "It will be up to the parties whether they want their candidates to declare their assets," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 03, 2017, with the headline 'Bribing of voters in focus as Malaysia polls near'. Print Edition | Subscribe