MEO-Net (Malaysian Election Observers Network) feel compelled to present more evidences of vote buying in the 10th Sarawak State elections because of the persistent denial by politicians involved that the pay-off to voters were for the purpose of buying their votes.
Since a politician in the centre of vote-buying accusation Mr Joseph Mauh anak Ikeh has come out to admit to the pay-off to voters in his constituency, we consider that we need not conceal a photograph of those who are caught in distributing cash to the voters in a long house, identified in the politician’s constituency in N52 Tamin.
In addition to this we are putting forward more damning evidences in the forms of payment vouchers from the Chief Minister’s office –dishing out RM15,000.00 in one case to a long house, and in another case, a payment voucher and a cheque of RM1,000.00, for another long house recipient.
A video on the vote buying, which is extended from a previous one on the issue, but added with new damning evidences, is here.
A RM1,000.00 cheque from the Chief Minister's office to buy vote for BN Sarawak.
We were reliably informed by our local observers that the payments were made in the following sequence: After the dissolution of the Sarawak State Assembly on Mar 21st, prepared cheques, of various amount corresponding to the voters number in the individual long houses are distributed at the BN office in Selangau, to about 200 long house chiefs in the N52 Tamin constituency, who were summoned there.
One payment voucher dated March 25th, where we obtained a photocopy shows an amount of RM15,000.00 made out to a long house chief, while another voucher dated March 25th, and a cheque dated March 27th, of RM1,000.00 was made out to another long house recipient.
The purpose of these payments is for the long house chiefs (`Tuai Rumah’) to distribute at RM500.00 per dwelling (`pintu’) in each of their respective long house. The payment was made in cheques only and can only be cashed, as the chiefs were told, after the victory of the BN candidate.
A voucher from the Chief Minister's office to give cheque to the long houses.
Then on the eve of polling, on April 14th, there was another round of payment to the individual voters which is in cash of RM50.00 or RM100.00 per voter.
In the particular long house Rumah Unban the payment as shown in the video was at RM50.00 per voter.
There are a number of questionable aspects to the payments-chief of which is that they are indisputably meant to pressure the voters to vote for a particular candidate, with the cashing of the 1st payment in cheque conditioned upon the victory of the candidate concerned.
We also discovered that there are cheating involved in many cases where some of the payments in multiple cheques bounced due to probably deliberate misspelling of the name of recipients.
We had earlier disclosed a case in Rh Kuching in the same constituency where a cheque of RM5,000.00 bounced. The claim by Mr Joseph Mauh that the payments were for transport subsidy simply does not conform to the facts deduced from the above material evidence and the more credible account given by our local observers.
Another troubling aspect of these massive payment is that the amount involved can be so huge that they went over the legal spending limits allowed for the campaign expenses of a State Assembly candidate i.e. RM100,000.00 per person. Mr Joseph Mauh himself mentioned it in his reported statement.
If the average payment to a long house is RM10,000.00 (taking a lower figure) the estimated 200 long houses in Tamin would require an amount of RM2 million for the 1st installment of payments! Then the RM50.00 given to each voter on polling eve will amount to RM600,000.00, given that there are 12244 registered voters in Tamin.
Put together this amount to RM2,600,000.00, which grossly over shoot the legal spending limit for Mr Joseph Mauh! Since Mr Joseph Mauh claim that all the payments are for transport subsidies we call upon Mr Joseph Mauh to disclose his campaign expenses account which he is legally required to submit to the Election Commission within weeks of the polling.
This will assure the public that he did not knowingly over-spend in his campaign and therefore he did not win the election by unfair and legally prohibited advantage!
We call upon the EC to disclose Mr Joseph Mauh’s campaign expenses account so that the so-called transport subsidies can be confirmed or rejected once and for all.
Other than calling the payment as transport subsidies, Mr Joseph Mauh also branded the payment as consolation payment to the voters (`sagu hati’). He should be told that such consolation payments blatantly violate the Election Offenses Act 1954 as it amount to bribery, whether the voters finally voted for him or not.
His argument that 3,000 over voters voted for his opponent did not show that he did not tried to induce the voters to vote for him.
The 3rd aspect that is troubling is that: the money actually came from the Chief Minister’s office under some development budget, as can be seen from the payment vouchers. As it is well known the election was called following the dissolution of the State Assembly.
Thus any allocation from the state coffer to advantage a candidate’s campaign amount to criminal theft from the state coffer!
Such pay-off to voters is believed by many – including Mr Joseph himself, to be happening in all 71 constituencies in the 10th Sarawak state elections.
Assuming this is true-since we have no reason to suspect his insider’s opinion, the total amount of public fund which was used to campaign for the BN for the whole of Sarawak, with 979,796 voters, come to an astounding amount of RM 208 million, assuming that the RM 2.6 million fund for Tamin’s 12,224 voters represent the average going rate that apply across the state!
This amount to gross criminality against the state and inordinate unfairness to the Opposition as they have no similar access to public fund! Most seriously the results of elections which are significantly distorted by vote buying, are unrepresentative of the real choice of the people and are therefore invalid!
Campaign to reject vote-buying candidates for General Elections
In view of the evidences uncovered so far we call upon the authorities i.e. the Election Commission and the MACC to investigate vote buying incidents and also the extent of the abuse of public fund for the campaign of all the candidates for the 10th Sarawak State elections.
If the authorities fail to act-as most people don’t expect them to, then the last resort in a democracy is for the voters to use the voting power in their hand to reject all vote buying candidates in the coming General Elections.
We give tw0 weeks for the authorities to commence action-failing which we would initiate a nation-wide campaign to mobilize voters to reject all candidates who try to buy votes in the coming General Elections, more so on those who would not stop at stealing public fund to do so!
MEO-Net is formed in 2009 to coordinate civil society groups who are involved in voter registration, voter education and election observation. There are 6 network members: MALVU, SEW, MEW, SAFREL, KOMAS & NIEI.
Endorsers of the statement: Brimas, Empower, Penangwatch, SOS, MEO-Net
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