KUALA KRAI, 13 July 2009: An independent election watchdog has slammed Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin‘s promise of a bridge in Manik Urai, should BN win in the by-election there, describing it as election graft.
“The promise to give a bridge to Manik Urai voters if they vote for Barisan Nasional (BN) breaches the principles of a fair election,” said National Institute for Electoral Integrity (NIEI) executive director Amin Iskandar, in a press statement today.
“This is because the federal government has misused its powers by giving development promises in the by-election campaign period, while their opponents are unable to do the same,” Amin explained.
Amin was commenting on a statement by Muhyiddin on the campaign trail in Manik Urai yesterday. The deputy prime minister pledged a replacement for the 40-year-old bridge linking Kg Manik Urai Lama and Kg Manik Urai Baru, if the electorate voted in the BN candidate, Tuan Aziz Tuan Mat.
Tuan Aziz is facing PAS’s candidate Mohd Fauzi Abdullah in a constituency of 12,293 voters nearly all of whom are Malay Malaysian. PAS is likely to retain the seat in polls that will be held tomorrow, 14 July.
Muhyiddin “The Public Works Department has made an estimate of RM7 million to construct the new bridge. We (BN) promise that the new bridge will be built one day after we win (the by-election),” Muhyiddin said.
“Muhyiddin’s promise may be seen as ‘intimidation politics’, as the people of Manik Urai will not receive the bridge if they vote against the BN,” Amin said.
“The deputy prime minister’s announcement has defiled the Manik Urai by-election process, which should have proceeded fairly, freely, and transparently,” Amin added.
To avoid such breaches from happening in future, Amin suggested that the Election Commission, working with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, petition Parliament to draw up an Election Anti-Corruption Act.
“(This law) exists in other Asian countries such as Taiwan,” Amin noted, adding that such legislation would help maintain the quality of elections in Malaysia, keeping them on par with United Nations standards.