Focus View
Opaqueness in what constitutes a bribe
FocusM team | 08 Sep 2017 00:30
There seems to be a thin line between what constitutes a bribe and what doesn’t in the eyes of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).  

A senior official recently said offering a travel allowance to entice voters to return to their hometown to vote is deemed a bribe. However, if politicians offer genuine aid such as rice or a donation to poor folk during an election, it does not constitute a bribe. 

With the 14th general election looming, the MACC’s views are important. Many politicians tend to go overboard in wooing voters.  

Most Malaysians will agree that paying for votes is wrong, and that includes offering aid such as rice or donations. As long as there are monetary or other forms of inducement for political support, it should be considered bribery. 

Where do we draw the line between what is genuine aid and what is a bribe? When such aid is given during an election, doesn’t that constitute a bid to fish for votes?

The MACC also clarified that election pledges are not considered bribery. They  include promises to build houses. There is nothing wrong in making pledges but sometimes politicians make fresh financial allocations and approvals during the campaign period. Surely this is unethical?
   
Once Parliament is dissolved, caretaker governments have no right to make new allocations or dish out new funds except during an emergency situation like floods or other natural disasters.    

It is also a good idea to make it mandatory for all candidates to declare their assets. If they are not willing to be transparent, they should not be contesting in the election.

Being an MP or state assemblyman means serving the people. If candidates prefer to keep their wealth private, they have no business seeking public office. 

On that note, it is disappointing that legislation to regulate political funding will not be introduced before the next general election. Given the accusations of increasingly rampant money politics during an election, shouldn’t that have been a priority of the government?