KUALA LUMPUR — March 29, 2019: The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih) has accused PKR’s Miri member of parliament Michael Teo of committing an election offence by distributing free food coupons to schoolchildren in Rantau yesterday.
According to Bersih, Teo’s action, which was deemed to be at the request of Pakatan Harapan (PH) Rantau by-election candidate Dr S. Streram, was a form of treating.
Section 8 of the Election Offences Act 1954 defines treating as; to treat anyone, either before, during or after an election, with food, drink, refreshment, provision, money, ticket or any other means for the purpose of corruptly influencing any person to vote at an election.
“Bersih would suggest that the interpretation of “before an election” means before the nomination day, and it would be reasonable that the starting period for election offences to be committed is the moment a seat is declared vacant or when Parliament or State Assembly is dissolved.
“We urge the Election Commission to take all necessary steps for redress and ensure that all parties adhere to the Act. All parties and candidates should adhere not just to the letter of the law, but also to the spirit of the Act – that elections must be free, clean and fair,” Bersih said in a statement today.
Teo, who was with Dr Streram yesterday, treated some 300 underprivileged children from five schools in Rantau to the coupons, amounting to RM75,000. Each of the children received coupons worth between RM50 and RM150.
“I had earlier carried out a similar programme for eight schools around Miri. Looking at the good response, I decided to continue it. This personal assistance will continue as long as there is demand from schools and as long as I can afford it,” said Teo.
The by-election was necessitated after the Federal Court uphold the decision by Seremban Election Court which declared that the unopposed victory of Barisan Nasional’s Datuk Seri Mohamad Hassan in last year’s general election to be null and void.
Mohamad had won the Rantau state seat last year after Dr Streram was not allowed to enter the nomination centre to submit his nomination papers as he had forgotten to bring his entry pass.
The nomination day of Rantau by-election is tomorrow.