Bersih unhappy with Abang Jo for ‘shamelessly’ using his position

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Election watchdog Bersih has called on Sarawak’s interim Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg to immediately cease using his position to campaign by announcing projects or allocations, officiating at government events, and signing state government memoranda of understanding (MoU) for any projects.

Bernama

This call also includes former ministers from the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) who are also candidates in the Sarawak state assembly election, it said.

“The Sarawak state secretary should also immediately issue instructions to state government employees to prohibit them from assisting the GPS campaign by using state government machinery and resources including the use of government-owned print media and social media.

“Although the law, including the Electoral Offences Act, has not yet covered the issue of provisional government procedures, the use of government machinery and resources, including announcements by the provisional government, is in violation of provisional government conventions.

“The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Declaration states the government should take appropriate measures to separate the roles of party and government, as well as Article 11 of the Bangkok Declaration which states government resources used to promote political interests during elections will cause the electoral process to be unfair and the validity of election results questionable,” the Bersih steering committee said in a statement today.

The election watchdog said its monitoring team in Sarawak found that too much misuse of government machinery and resources was committed by former ministers and the interim chief minister for their political interests.

“They shamelessly use the government machinery to campaign and even the federal government still invites the interim chief minister to attend federal government functions.

“For example, on Dec 12, Abang Johari, who is also the GPS candidate for Gedong, officiated at the launching ceremony of Gedong as a district.

“The ceremony was also attended by state secretary Jaul Samion. The event organised by the state government has clearly become a campaigning platform for Abang Johari and is an abuse of government resources to campaign for the benefit of the party as well as certain candidates,” said Bersih.

It also cited that Abang Johari had on Nov 30 also announced that the Sarawak government will launch a state-owned airline for tourism and agriculture purposes while officiating at the groundbreaking ceremony for Bebuling Airport which is expected to be completed in 2023 with an estimated value of RM108 million.

It added that incumbent Bukit Begunan Mong Dagang had presented a government grant amounting to RM50,000 at the Bukit Begunan GPS operations room and was accompanied by a GPS submission.

“This is blatantly an offence of corruption and vote-buying by the state government.

“State government machinery such as social media sites have also been used as a platform to channel election campaigns by GPS parties.

“We found that Facebook pages and state government websites such as the Sarawak Public Communications Unit set up under the Chief Minister’s Department had been used to campaign for GPS,” it said.

Bersih reminded that elections must be clean and fair so that all candidates and political parties can campaign on an equal footing.

“The use of government machinery and resources to campaign is totally inappropriate as it uses people’s money to campaign for the benefit of certain candidates and political parties only,” it said.

Yesterday, PKR secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution urged the Election Commission to take action after a polling station in Telang Usan was allegedly plastered with GPS flags and used for a state government event. – Malaysiakini