It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt. - Mark Twain
I cannot help but be reminded of the above quote when reading about how MACC defines corruption under the Election Offences Act 1954.
Excerpt of Kim Quek's article, 'MACC must not endorse election bribery' in CPI:
The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s (MACC) heretical interpretation of the Election Offences Act 1954 (the Act) on corruption is most alarming, and warrants an emphatic rebuttal.
In the front page headline story of Sin Chew Daily yesterday (Feb 13), MACC’s deputy chief commissioner (Prevention) Sutinah Sutan was quoted as saying that for corruption offences committed during an election, our laws only deal with individuals – not political parties. As such, money or gifts given to the electorate to induce votes for a political party is not an offence. It is an offence only when the gift is given to induce votes for a specific candidate.
Sutinah further said that the Prime Minister or other Barisan Nasional (BN) leader’s announcements of allocations for projects are meant to benefit the people; such actions cannot be considered election bribery or abuse of power as they are meant to garner electoral support for BN, and not for the leader himself.
I have to differ with these interpretations of the Act taken by MACC.
Corruptly inducing votes for parties is also bribery
First, the definition of bribery is covered in Section 10 of the Act, but nowhere in the entire Section is there any mention that the object of inducement must be for an individual candidate. The Act only defines bribery as material benefit given out or pledged to induce votes without specifying whether such electoral support is meant for a political party or for an individual. Under the circumstances, how can Sutinah claim that giving out money to solicit electoral support for a political party does not fall within the ambit of the Act?
In fact, the pertinent criterion MACC should consider is the motive of the gift – whether it is dished out to solicit votes. Whether the solicitation is meant specifically for a certain candidate or for a group of candidates or for a political party is wholly immaterial...