Bersih: Handouts should have been suspended until after polls

Modified 7 Nov 2019, 9:38 am

TG PIAI POLLS | Electoral reform pressure group Bersih has accused the Johor government's annual RM1,000 special payment to fishermen as a form of vote-buying. 

In a statement today, Bersih stated that although the payment was a scheduled annual payment, it should have been suspended during the campaign period.

"This is to ensure a level playing field," said the group. 

Bersih was referring to the announcement by the Johor government that 544 Tanjung Piai fishermen would be receiving their RM1,000 annual cash handout next week. 

The Johor government had refuted claims that this was vote-buying because the handout for the 1,513 fishermen in Tanjung Piai had been in place since 2015. The payout would usually take place between October and November.

Bersih also lashed out at the federal government ministers, namely, Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, Rural Development Minister Rina Harun and Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Salahuddin Ayub,  for announcing allocation for projects when they visited Tanjung Piai for campaigning purposes.  

"Bersih is not accusing these ministers of violating laws, because laws on the abuse of government resources during campaigning have yet to be formulated," the group said. 

"Instead, we urge lawmakers from all parties to support electoral reforms and amend the Election Offences Act 1954 to ensure a level playing field during elections."

The Tanjung Piai by-election will be held on Nov 16. 

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