What Is a Bribe and What Is Not in the General Election

2005
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The MACC on what is deemed a bribe and what is not in the general election.

Bribe:

  • Travel allowance to entice voters to return to their hometowns to vote
  • Any form of inducement, be it cash or gifts

Not a bribe:

  • Genuine aid such as rice or donation to poor folk

Consequence of bribery in GE14:

  • Anyone caught giving bribes would be disqualified

According to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), offering a travel allowance to entice voters to return to their hometowns to vote is considered a bribe in the eyes of the law, according to media reports.

Deputy chief commissioner (operations) Azam Baki said offering voters any form of inducement, be it cash or gifts, is deemed a bribe.

“For example, if a voter is offered an allowance to go back and vote, or paid RM50 so that he or she votes for a particular candidate,” The Star reported Azam as saying in an interview with Sin Chew Daily.

“However, if politicians were to offer genuine aid, such as rice or a donation to poor folk, this would not constitute a bribe,” said Azam, adding that election pledges were also not considered bribery.

He said political parties would usually make all kinds of promises, such as building more houses, during the campaign period.

Azam said it was a normal practice in most countries for election candidates to make campaign promises to gain support, citing the US presidential election as an example.

In anticipation of the 14th general election, the anti-graft agency reminded all political parties and candidates that anyone caught giving bribes would be disqualified.

“A law enforcement team consisting of MACC officials and police will be set up to monitor graft activities as soon as the Election Commission announces the date of the general election,” Azam said.

He said if the team received any report from the public, such cases would be investigated under the Election Commission Act, Anti-Corruption Act, and Penal Code.

However, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Paul Low disagrees with Azam’s statement on travel allowance being a bribe, saying that voters are not obliged to back the party or individual who sponsored the trip.

“Does that influence someone to vote for you? I don’t think so.

“So, unless the person says to a voter, ‘I give you the money provided you vote for me’, then giving such funds cannot be considered an act of bribery,” Low was quoted as saying by FMT.

Responding to Azam’s statement on offering rice and donations, Bersih chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah said this is a form of vote-buying.

“I certainly do not agree with that. They are all vote-buying,” she told Malaysiakini.