Election handouts are bribes, says Transparency International

By Shazwan Mustafa Kamal, The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, March 30 — Any type of handout and goodies to voters during elections is a form of corruption, an anti-graft watchdog group said today.

Datuk Paul Low, president of Transparency International Malaysia said that any “enticement” for votes during elections was considered “corrupt practice”.

“There have been a lot of arguments on vote buying, enticing voters via money, ‘sewing machines’, we believe that this is corrupt practice.

“When you give these sweeteners, what would be the motivation? Any enticing for votes, we believe that is corruption,” said Low.

Although he did not name anyone, it is believed that Low’s remarks were intended Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz, for his statement in Parliament yesterday.

The minister had said that handout and goodies in the form of financial assistance to voters during elections was not a form corruption because it was the federal government’s way of “fulfilling its promises” and manifestos.

“We have already promised that if we won we would fulfil (our manifesto)… for example a sewing machine, if we do not give it during elections we will give it after elections, is that a crime? We cannot stop this because well, we will be giving it after (elections),” said the minister during a reply to PKR Ketereh MP Ab Azizi Kadir.

The PKR MP had asked the government to state whether it considered financial assistance during elections or by-elections as a form of corruption.

Nazri also said that a total of RM11,185,542.93 (11.2) million was spent on 16 by-elections since 2008.

“Unfortunately we do not have adequate laws to address this,” said Low today.