In view of the polling day for the Cameron Highlands by-election is approaching on the coming Saturday, the Coalition for Clean and Fair Election (Bersih 2.0) wishes to remind all candidates and political parties to refrain from setting up “pondok panas” or conducting campaign activities, especially in the area near to the polling stations and in social media.
Section 26 of the Election Offences Act 1954 forbids any campaigning activities on polling day. Section 26(1)(c) forbids the opening or establishing or maintaining an office or a booth within the constituency in which a candidate seeks election for any purpose connected with an election other than the offices opened or established or maintained pursuant to election campaign during campaign period. The penalty for this offence carries a jail term of not more than one year or a fine not more than RM5000 or both.
Only the Election Commission is allowed to set up booths on polling day. Section 26A further stipulates that “The Election Commission shall, on polling day, provide such number of booths situated at such places as it thinks necessary for the purpose of assisting electors to ascertain their electoral numbers in the electoral roll.” There is no need for political parties to establish any booth to assist voters on polling day.
Bersih 2.0 also warns against the practice of disguising party booth or canvassing activities with stalls set up near the polling stations selling or dishing out free drinks or food. If these are found, the people involved would have committed election offences as well.
Section 26(1)(f) forbids the canvassing for the votes of electors on polling day, on behalf of the any candidate, in any constituency for or against any candidate or political party at an election by whatever means. We call on all candidates, political parties and individuals to refrain from committing such offences, including on social media such as Facebook, Twitter etc. This would allow all voters to have a calm environment to make their decision in in a rational manner on polling day.
Despite such provisions as listed above, the phenomena of “pondok panas” and campaigning on polling day continued unabatedly in the past four by-elections in Sungai Kandis, Seri Setia, Balakong and Port Dickson. This has to stop.
We urge the Election Commission and the law enforcement team (PP-KPR) to enforce these laws strictly to mark a new beginning of a new election culture in the country.
We call on all voters of Cameron Highlands to come out to vote on Saturday and exercise their rights and duties as voters.
The Steering Committee of Bersih 2.0