No issue with govt announcing allocations during by-elections, says Ahmad Maslan

No issue with govt announcing allocations during by-elections, says Ahmad Maslan
Deputy public works minister Ahmad Maslan speaking at a ceramah event in Kampung Makau Suah, Sungai Bakap yesterday.

NIBONG TEBAL: It is not an offence for ministers to organise programmes or announce allocations in constituencies that are having by-elections, says deputy works minister Ahmad Maslan.

Ahmad said such matters had been brought to the court by the opposition parties in the past, but decisions have never sided with the party that brought the case.

“There was a legal precedent (set) in the past - during Tengku Razaleigh’s time if I am not wrong, where (a case was) brought to court by the then opposition.

“In the end, the court decided that they (ministers) came (to the constituency) using their capacity as government leaders who were meeting the public (at a constituency) where a by-election is coincidentally taking place," he told the reporters after attending a ceramah event at Sungai Bakap, here, yesterday.

The deputy minister added that he attended the ceramah event merely as a member of the UMNO Supreme Council. “I did not make any announcements when I was here (campaigning).''

Ahmad was asked by a reporter to comment on PAS’ Rantau Panjang MP Siti Zailah Mohd Yusof, who recently said that the federal government itself is contesting in Sungai Bakap, as voters told her that ministers have been showing up in the constituency under the cover of government-organised programmes.

According to PAS’ organ Harakahdaily, Siti Zailah claimed that the voters there, especially the Perikatan Nasional supporters, are not facing a Pakatan Harapan candidate, but the federal government instead.

Ahmad was referring to a 1981 case brought by DAP against former finance minister Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, where a petition was sent to court claiming that Razaleigh, during his campaigning tour to Pengkalan Kota constituency during the 1980 general election, allegedly told a crowd that he would personally give more money for development in that constituency should Barisan Nasional wins the seat.

According to the DAP candidate, who lost the contest, this was an inducement that constituted bribery.

The issue of allocation announcements made by ministers during by-elections has been receiving attention lately in the aftermath of the Kuala Kubu Baharu by-election, with election watchdog groups having argued that these acts constitute vote-buying and abuse of state resources during elections.

Umno machinery must explain diesel subsidy rationalisation, water issues

Ahmad speaking to reporters after attending a ceramah event in Kampung Makau Suah, Sungai Bakap

Separately, Ahmad, who was appointed “war room" chief by the UMNO Supreme Council for the Sungai Bakap by-election, hoped that the party would increase the number of its election machinery to be mobilised on the ground throughout the campaigning period.

These machineries, he said, should prioritise conducting home-to-home visits and explain to voters on current issues.

“The main issues over here (in Sungai Bakap) are water (supply) issues and diesel (subsidy) issues. Comments should be given on these two issues from time to time,” he added.

Sungai Bakap by-election on July 6 will witness a straight contest between PH candidate Dr Joohari Ariffin and PN candidate Abidin Ismail. The by-election was held following the death of former assemblyman Nor Zamri Latiff on May 24, which caused the vacancy of the seat.

In the Penang state election held last August, Nor Zamri, who was also the Nibong Tebal PAS chief, defeated PH candidate Nurhidayah Che Rose by a majority of 1,563 votes in a straight fight.

There are 39,279 registered voters in Sungai Bakap, consisting of 39,222 regular voters and 57 police personnel.