If ugaiz weren’t aware, it’s been an excitable week for the people at Sungai Besar and Kuala Kangsar due to the by-election campaigns going on.
In case you were wondering, a by-election is kinda like an emergency election which is held when an area (constituency) seat in parliament is suddenly left empty. This can be for a whole range of reasons, such as if the MP was put in jail or is too sick to continue with his or her duties. In the case of Sungai Besar and Kuala Kangsar, there’s a bit of a tragic backstory as the by-elections were called after the MPs in these two areas – Noriah Kasnon for Sungai Besar and Wan Muhammad Khair-il Anuar for Kuala Kangsar – passed away in a helicopter crash in Sarawak on April 4th (RIP).
All the major political parties are involved in both areas, namely BN with both candidates from UMNO, PAS, and Pakatan Harapan (aka Pakatan Rakyat 2.0) with both candidates from Amanah.
With less than a week before voting day (on the 18th), parties are going all out to get dem votes with the usual ceramahs, banners, and… free gifts. So much like how we covered the weird model tanks and jets in the Sarawak elections, we’ll be looking into the weird gifts handed out by the contesting political parties in these two constituencies.
1. MCA shows voters BN will
rice rise to the challenge! (Kuala Kangsar)
Just last Sunday (June 12th), Kuala Kangsar residents were eagerly anticipating the MCA Parents’ Day and “Yang Benar” – the name of their election campaign – event. It was apparently a huge highlight because at least one person registered for the event in advance:
“I was told I can get a pack of rice and probably a hamper (of goods) by showing up at this event. … We can get the rice after the ceramah finish.” – Unnamed Attendee, as quoted by Malaysiakini.
The crowd was treated to a nearly two-hour event that “attacked DAP, Amanah, and PAS over the Hudud issue” before they were given a bag of rice each, with some smart people attending with their family members so they could go home with more.
Oddly enough, when the Malaysiakini reporters asked why the rice was given out, MCA Wanita Chief Heng Seai Kie – who gave out the first bag of rice – said she had no idea, and that she was only there to speak at the ceramah. A BN party worker gave a slightly more detailed answer:
“This is the celebration of Parents’ Day. Do not listen to the opposition’s bulls**t that they come (to the) ceremah for handouts,” – BN worker, as quoted by Malaysiakini.
However, the people who attended the MCA event were playing it safe, because on the other side of town…
2. Gerakan was giving out rice AND lucky draw hampers! (Kuala Kangsar)
Even though Gerakan and MCA are both part of the Barisan Nasional coalition, it didn’t stop Gerakan from making things a little more interesting than giving out 10kg bags of rice.
They gave out 5kg bags of rice instead.
However, the payoff to getting less rice is that at least 15 attendees walked away with a lucky draw hamper full of groceries.
The 200 attendees, most of them elderly people, were given a piece of paper with a rice symbol which they could exchange for, well, a bag of rice. Here’s a video of part of the prize giving ceremony.
With all this rice and epic hampers being given out on the BN side, Pakatan Harapan decided that it was probably a good idea to do a giveaway of their own as well…
3. Pakatan Harapan gave their supporters………….. Sawi. (Kuala Kangsar)
Yeah. As in the vegetable.
Perhaps realizing that all the free rice given out by the BN component parties would lead to a pretty unhealthy diet (too much rice MAY cause diabetes), the 150 people who showed up at the Pakatan Harapan rally were given bunches of sawi.
According to a Pakatan worker, the sawi was donated by a Pakatan Harapan supporter from Cameron Highlands and given out to people as they listened to the ceramah:
“This is from a supporter in Cameron Highlands. He brought two large baskets today and it’s meant for distribution.” – Unnamed Pakatan worker, as quoted by Free Malaysia Today, translated from BM by CILISOS.
Unlike some other donation stories though, this is one seems pretty legit since the sawi’s still wrapped in newspapers and it seems that not everyone who attended got it. We wonder if Pakatan issued an apology to those who didn’t get any though…
But while Kuala Kangsar was getting rice and veggies, what were the voters in Sungai Besar getting?
4. Pas, Amanah, and the War of the Rice Dumplings (Sungai Besar)
Being that the Sungai Besar area is known for its rice plantations, it would have been quite silly for the parties to be distributing rice there (or maybe they did but no one’s reported on it). Instead, both PAS and Amanah took to distributing Bak Chang, or Chinese glutinous rice dumplings – but the halal version la.
We don’t know who came up with the idea first, but for PAS, it was an opportunity for their candidate Dr. Abdul Rani Osman to meet with non-Muslim voters and explain how the so-called “Hudud Bill” for Kelantan wasn’t actually Hudud.
On the other hand, Amanah took to the Bak Chang as a way to bridge the “food barrier” between Chinese and Malay voters (which make up the majority of the voting pool). They also used the Bak Chang as a branding exercise to make it easier for voters to recognize the Amanah logo.
No serious. Because Amanah’s a pretty new party that comprised mostly of ex-PAS members, voters were either unable to tell the difference between the two parties, still think that PAS is part of the Pakatan coalition, or were under the impression that Amanah is an independent party (only 8% of voters knew what Amanah was).
“People normally see our face (DAP leaders) and they associate it with the rocket logo. But, this time we told them to vote for the orange party, which has a logo that resembles the halal bak chang. Undilah parti bak chang,” – Teresa Kok during a ceramah in Sungai Besar, as quoted by The Malay Mail Online.
Perhaps Parti Bak Chang might appeal to those hungry for change? 😛
5. They serviced peoples’ cars for free??? [Mini-update]
Not too long after we published this, we received a press release from Bersih 2.0 that lists down all the free gifts given out (as noted by their observers). Here are some highlights:
- Free motorcycle service from PKR (20-40 people)
- Free car service from PAS (30-40 people)
- Free balls and shuttlecocks from the Youth and Sports Ministry (100-150 people)
- Free walkie talkies (100 units), fishing licenses, and first aid kits to fishermen by BN government bodies (250-300 people)
- …and much much more!
You can view the full list on their website, along with which laws they violate. We contacted Bersih 2.0 for pictures or other articles of proof, but if there is, it’ll probably be an article on it’s own ;-). CILISOS reader Walao Eh also pointed out a RM30,000 donation to a mosque in Sungai Besar by Selangor MB Azmin Ali (though Azmin Ali says it’s been allocated before the by-election).
And yes, the sawi is listed there too. Lel.
OMG! Isn’t it wrong to give gifts to voters?
Well…. this is a pretty hard question to answer. While there are laws in the Election Offences Act (pg. 16) to prevent political candidates from buying their votes, it doesn’t technically cover gifts since you’re not obligated to vote for someone just because you accepted a bag of rice from them. This is reflected in a case brought up by a PAS candidate in Kubu Gajah, where the Federal Court decided that giving out rice didn’t violate the rules.
However, this doesn’t mean that the practice is accepted or fair to everyone involved.
In a study by the Electoral Integrity Project, Malaysia ranked almost at the bottom in terms of financial integrity in elections – at number 50 out of 54 countries surveyed, with our election laws scoring pretty low (26/100) and our actual practice of the laws even lower (15/100). Our Election Commission – the people who make sure parties and candidates play fair – was also singled out:
“The [Elections Commission] does not conduct investigations, lacks the capacity to do so, and never imposes sanctions on parties or candidates who violate the law. In Malaysia, not only is the regulatory framework fairly weak, enforcement is less than rigorous” – Money, Politics, and Transparency project, quoted by The Sun.
The problem with giving out free stuff though, is that free stuff costs money. Many countries (like Singapore) prevent or limit companies from accepting foreign or anonymous donations *cough*2.6*cough*billion*cough*allegedly*cough* for campaigns because it can “influence the political process in negative ways, such as “vote buying” and influencing policy decisions“.
And if you factor in promises of large gifts such as a RM50k sports centre in Sarawak if a certain party wins or PM Najib’s tease of more donations to a mosque in Sungai Besar after the elections (on top of a RM500k donation), it becomes really hard to differentiate between goodwill and… well, lack of control over our election practices.
- 8 BIZARRE BANNERS FROM THE SARAWAK ELECTIONS… AND A TANK??!
- 7 WAYS THE NEW PAKATAN HARAPAN IS LIKE A TEEN LOVE STORY
- 5 REASONS WHY BN CRUSHED THE OPPOSITION IN THE SARAWAK ELECTIONS