Press Conference Statement by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjong, Lim Kit Siang,after attending the inauguration of the new legal office of his former political secretary, Teng Chang Khim in Klang on Saturday, 21st January, 1994:
Call on ACA to set up a Special General Elections Audit Team to cost all expenditures by political parties and candidates in the next general elections to ensure that they do not commit corrupt practices by violating the legal limits on election expenses
The Anti-Curruption Agency Director-General. Shafee Yahya said three days ago that the ACA would monitor all political parties to ensure that there is no corrupt practice or vote-buying in the next general elections.
I call on the ACA Director-General to explain how the ACA proposes to prevent corrupt practices in the next general elections by imposing strict curbs on election expenses by political parties and candidates.
It is well known that the Barisan Nasional and its candidates violate the legal limits on election expenses restricting a parliamentary candidate to RM50,000 and a state assembly candidate to RM30,000 – which is the root cause of the ‘corruption’ of the general elections in Malaysia.
However, the ACA had been completely helpless in checking this most serious form of corrupt practice in Malaysia’s general elections – which is one important reason why general elections in Malaysia is not recognised as ‘free, fair and clean’ whether locally or internationally.
Is the ACA proposing to establish a Special General Elections Audit Team to cost all the total expenditures incurred by the Barisan Nasional and its candidates in the next general elections to check on such corrupt practice?
It is well known that the general election expenditures of the Barisan Nasional do not just run into tens of millions of ringgit, but hundreds of millions of ringgit in utter violation of election lwas limiting election expenses – and an ACA which has full powers of investigation and prosecution would have a ‘field day’ indeed!
In December 1990 in Parliament, I estimated that the Barisan Nasional spent about RM300 million in the 10-day general elections campaign, or RM30 million a day, and this estimate was never challenged by any Barisan Nasional leader.
DAP is prepared to allow all its election expenditures in the general elections to be audited and costed by a Special ACA General Elections Audit Team – but is the Barisan Nasional prepared to allow all its general elections expenditures to be similarly audited and costed, so as to assist the ACA to stamp out corrupt practices in the next general elections?
If the ACA is incapable or unable to deal effectively with the root cause of corruption in Malaysia’s general elections – the illegal politics of election expenditures by the Barisan Nasional running into hundreds of millions of ringgit which is forbidden by the election laws in the country – how can ACA enjoy public confidence that it will be completely free to fight corrupt practices in the next general elections?
Opposition parties and the private sector should be allowed to operate radio and television stations during general elections to ensure ‘free, fair and clean’ general elections
Another important pre-condition to ensure free, fair and clean general elections is free and fair access by all contesting political parties and candidates to the mass media, both printed and electronic particularly radio and television.
Malaysia cannot claim to have a ‘free, fair and clean’ general elections if the Opposition parties and candidates continue to be ‘blacked out’ or distorted in the mass media, especially radio and television as in previous general elections.
For instance, the Commonwealth Observer Group to the 1990 General Elections noted that one of the most undemocratic features was the government monopoly of radio and television and the ‘black-out’ of the Opposition.
The Election Commission Secretary, Datuk Rashid Rahman admitted at a general elections seminar last year that “The freedom of both electronic and print media is a vital pre-condition for a free election”. This means that no general elections can claim to be ‘free’ if there is no mass media freedom.
Already, the Barisan Nasional government has started abusing its control of electronic media to monopolise its channel and ‘black-out’ of the Opposition.
Yesterday, for instance, there was a live telecast of the Prime Minister’s official opening of Expo Johore in Pontian, which is nothing but a pre- general elections campaign, and there will be more of such abuses and misuses of the electronic media by the Barisan Nasional all the way till polling day.
To ensure that there is freer and fairer mass media coverage, the Broadcasting Act 1988 should be suspended and Opposition parties and the private sector should be allowed to operate radio and television stations during general elections.
As the Barisan Nasional is supremely confident of crushing the Opposition and set a record to achieve its best general elections result since its formation, it should agree to electoral reforms to ensure ‘free, fair and clean’ general elections so that its election victories would not be attributed to undemocratic, unfair and unclean electoral tactics.