Travel allowance for voters is deemed a bribe, says Malaysia's anti-graft body

A Malaysian woman waiting in the queue to cast her vote at a polling station in Kuching, on May 7, 2016.
A Malaysian woman waiting in the queue to cast her vote at a polling station in Kuching, on May 7, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - 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).

Deputy Chief Commissioner (Operations) Datuk Azam Baki said that in the eyes of the law, offering voters any form of inducement, be it cash or gifts, is bribery.

"For example, if a voter was offered an allowance to go back and vote, or pay RM50 (S$16) so that he or she votes for a particular candidate," he told Sin Chew Daily in an interview.

Azam, however, explained that if politicians offered genuine aid such as rice or a donation to poor folk, this would not constitute a bribe.

He also clarified that election pledges were not considered bribery.

"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 during the interview.

Azam said candidates in most countries would make campaign promises to woo support, as was the case in the US presidential election.

With election fever building up in anticipation of the 14th general election, the MACC has reminded all political parties and candidates that anyone caught giving bribes will be disqualified.

Azam said once the Election Commission announced 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."

Azam also said the MACC had 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.

He added that it was usual for political parties to submit their candidate list to the MACC and police for vetting.