The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0) condemns the reported pulling back of constituency allocations by the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government for opposition MPs.
The removal of such allocations is not just discriminatory towards voters in the opposition constituencies, it is also another big betrayal to the people after the forming of the backdoor government. Such discrimination is a Barisan Nasional (BN) legacy that was sadly retained, though scaled-down, by PH which now bears the brunt as the new opposition.
The constituency allocation is meant for MPs to address critical needs among their constituents. Voters in the constituencies held by the Opposition should not be punished for electing MPs who are not aligned with the current ruling coalition. If opposition voters should be denied funding, should they be exempted from paying taxes too?
All MPs/ADUNs should have equal funding that is statutory provided regardless of party allegiance, and not at the discretion of the prime minister/menteri besar/chief minister. Such spending must be rigorously governed by guidelines and audited to avoid corruption and to ensure the people are truly benefited from the allocation.
This unscrupulous and undemocratic practice of using constituency funding to disempower opposition representatives and holding opposition voters to ransom is a one party-state mindset BN had practised for decades. Such funds were normally given to so-called ‘constituency coordinators’ who were their prospective candidates. PN pulling back funding for former government MPs is an unconcealed manifestation of the restoration of BN, with only composition change.
In June 2018, Bersih 2.0 had pointed out this long-standing problem when the Pakatan Harapan (PH) MPs received RM500,000 yearly allocation while the Opposition MPs received only RM100,000. Unfortunately, Bersih 2.0’s criticism fell into deaf ears and PH MPs are suffering the karma today because they did not make constituency funding statutory-based and indiscriminative to all MPs.
Therefore, PH has no moral high ground in ‘the pot calling the kettle black’ if their state governments in Selangor, Penang and Negeri Sembilan do not also stop the practice of giving funding of opposition constituencies to their own ‘constituency coordinators’. PH, and all other parties for that matter, must make explicit commitment in their next manifestos to legislate indiscriminative constituency allocation at the federal level.
Bersih 2.0 demands both the federal and state governments – helmed by PN, PH, BN, PAS, GPS and Warisan – to stop such discriminatory practices. PN must restore allocation to opposition MPs.
Steering Committee of Bersih 2.0
(Image credit: Free Malaysia Today)