The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (BERSIH 2.0) released today the observation report on the Seri Setia and Balakong by-elections, which were held on 8 September 2018.
The observation of the by-elections was conducted from 18 August to 8 September 2018.
BERSIH 2.0 recognises and welcomes some of the improvement measures implemented by the Election Commission, in particularly, the extension of campaign period from 14 days in the Sungai Kandis by-election to 21 days in the Seri Setia and Balakong by-elections, which allowed sufficient time for oversea voters to return their votes.
Nevertheless, the date of by-election, which was set right before a period of four days of holidays, contributed to the low turnout of voters in both by-elections, which is 43% in Balakong and 44.1% in Seri Setia.
The conduct of the two-by-elections have been largely smooth, except for several cases that are quite alarming:
- In Balakong, counting of postal votes in Balakong was done not in accordance with the prescribed procedures;
- In Balakong, one voter went to the wrong polling station and got his finger dipped in the indelible ink by the second clerk before the first clerk found his name was not in the voters list of the polling station. This resulted him unable to vote when he went to the correct polling station;
- In Seri Setia, election observers were not allowed to enter voting streams by Ketua Tempat Mengundi at Politeknik Sultan Salahudin Abdul Aziz Shah, which was later corrected by the EC officials;
- In both Balakong and Seri Setia, it was found that the open hall in many schools that were used to set up several voting streams were not conducive as too much disruption on sideways and from voting streams that were next to each other;
- Pondok panas continued to be set up by political parties on polling day despite this is no longer allowed under the law.
- Campaign materials were found within the area of 50 meters from polling stations in several instances.
BERSIH 2.0 believes these problems are mainly due to insufficient or ineffective training of election workers and insufficient enforcement of the law.
However, the main problems of the two by-elections lies in the election campaigns of Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS), Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) and Pakatan Harapan (PH). These election campaigns continued to be marred by election offences, despite Parti Keadilan Rakyat President Wan Azizah and MCA candidate, Tan Chee Teong, pledged to have a clean campaign.
In Seri Setia by-election, BERSIH 2.0 recorded at least 7 cases of election offences during campaign period. Both candidates from PAS and Pakatan Harapan were found to have provided voters with free food and gifts. For example, the candidate from PAS, Dr Halimah Ali distributed hampers to the community around Surau Darul Hidayah. Pakatan Harapan was found to give free white t-shirts to people who came to hear their speech at Desa Mentari.
Dr Halimah Ali was found to be campaigning through her Facebook on polling day, which is against Section 26 of the Election Offences Act. She clearly stated that at the last paragraph of her statement “don’t forget to vote for Dr Halimah Ali for N.32 DUN Seri Setia”. PKR candidate Halimey Abu Bakar also posted a campaign message on polling day.
In Balakong by-election, BERSIH 2.0 also recorded at least 8 cases related of election offences during campaign period. MCA candidate Tan Chee Teong for example gave free medical check-up service to residents of Taman Murni. There was also free food like satay and roti canai during the MCA grand finale event before the polling day.
Several Pakatan Harapan ministers were found to have used government official cars to attend campaign activities in Balakong.
However, MCA was also a victim to unruly campaign tactics as well. About 100 campaign bunting of MCA at Kwan Tung Baru, Sungai Chua were taken down and thrown everywhere on the road by unknown parties.
BERSIH 2.0 calls on all political parties:
- To stop engaging campaign tactics of treating or dishing out goodies in exchange for votes.
- To stop abuse government assets, resources, agencies and programs to get votes.
- To observe strictly the rule of stop election campaign activities on polling day to allow voters a peaceful time to make up their mind.
BERSIH 2.0 has submitted the two observation reports, which contain all these election offences to the Election Commission for their further actions.
Steering Committee of BERSIH 2.0