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When sweeteners are not an election offence

There is no legal provision to prosecute political parties or organisations for giving out money or gifts during an election campaign, according to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

Deputy chief commissioner (III) Sutinah Sutan said, however, that candidates, agents and supporters can be charged with corruption for similar activities if this is done in the candidate's interests.
“If the motive of dishing out money or a gift (by a candidate, agent or supporters) to voters is to win support for a certain political party, but not a specific candidate, then it is not an offence,” she told Sin Chew Daily.
“For instance, if we want to prosecute Umno, should a million of its members appear as plaintiffs in court?”

NONEShe also said announcements of government allocations by the prime minister during an election campaign are deemed to “help all the people” and therefore, cannot be seen as bribery or abuse of power.

While such announcements may prompt voters to support the coalition in power, she explained, the prime minister himself would not gain from this on a personal level.

She warned that, if the distribution of allocations is intended to garner personal support, then it would amount to violation of Section 10 of the Election Offences Act 1954.

Even treating voters to meals is covered by this interpretation - and voters themselves can be charged with bribery, she cautioned.

Asked whether MACC would want to amend the law to bring political parties within the scope of prosecution, Sutinah said there is no such plan.

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