Thursday, November 4, 2010

Nik Aziz's 'alms' is bribery, says EC

By Teoh El Sen
GUA MUSANG: The Election Commission has maintained its stand that any kind of money handout is considered vote-buying under the Election Offences Act 1954.
This was in response to PAS' explanation that Kelantan Menteri Besar Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat's cash handout to three just-converted Orang Asli here in Galas was merely wang zakat (alms).
The election management body also stood by its decision to airlift four ballot boxes from the Lojing Orang Asli area despite continued protests by PAS alleging possible vote-rigging.
Speaking at a Galas by-election press briefing at the Gua Musang Civic hall here this evening, EC deputy chairman Wan Ahmad Wan Omar said that the explanation by PAS was simply an "excuse".
"Article 10(A) of the Election Offences Act clearly says that any kind of money given by anyone to voters that can sway their vote can be interpreted as bribe or vote-buying. You can say you interpret it as alms or financial aide, but those are only excuses.
"If change of money from hand to hand happens, and if the recipient is a voter - if he is not then its okay - it is clear, you can refer to this section of offences," he said.
He added that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission had been notified of the matter as it fell under the watchdog's purview.
"We have given our view. What the video (of the alleged offence) was already clear. It is up to the public, MACC, political parties, to take action or not," he said.
Airlifting is necessary
On the airlifting of ballot boxes, Wan Ahmad said that it was a necessary action that had been done before.
"This is not something new, this is an old practice since Merdeka time and it is allowed under the 23(a)2 Elections (Conduct of Elections) Regulations 1981," he said.
Wan Ahmad explained that not all places were accessible by land and sometimes it was necessary to shift ballot boxes.
"Imagine if there were any objections and the entire voting process at the Lojing settlements finishes at 4pm, which is not an advisable time to fly, then the whole by-election will be delayed," he said, adding that even today, a helicopter flight was delayed due to bad weather.
Previously, PAS had said EC's decision to airlift ballot boxes from four Orang Asli settlements in Galas was "unreasonable" even though EC said it had the right to do so.
Wan Ahmad said the four ballot boxes from Belatim, Balar, Bihai and Hau had been sent there at 11am today in two helicopters together with EC officers.
"The officers will sleep there and the voting papers and boxes will be guarded by the police. We expect 900 people to turn up and voting will be closed at 1pm," he said, adding that the boxes would be sealed and signed by the EC officer and flown back to the Gua Musang Civic hall an hour later. Counting would be done after 5pm.
'No phantom voters'
On PAS' plan to carry out "citizen arrests" of those suspected to be phantom voters tomorrow, Wan Ahmad dismissed it as "political talk".
"There are no phantom voters. The phantom voters issue is political speak by many, to gain sympathy and to prepare an excuse in case of defeat. It gives the impression that EC is unfair and inefficient. The whole idea is to get political mileage," he said.
"This is old news that has been repeated for years. Everytime during election there will be allegations of phantom voters. But when they win, there's no news. But when they lose, it becomes their excuse.
“EC has said time and time again clearly and sincerely, our voter registration data is clean. We check through the list with the National Registration Department. We have taken out those who have shifted homes," he added.
Wan Ahmad said he expected more than 80% of voters to turn up tomorrow

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