Ahead of the state polls on Saturday, the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) would like to call for all democratic stakeholders, including voters, candidates and parties, to work together to ensure that a fair, clean and peaceful state election will take place.
IDEAS calls upon all candidates, parties and supporters to refrain from making statements that encourage and incite hatred against groups based on their religion and race, and from using government assets and resources for election campaigns on the final campaign day and on polling day itself.
“We note several statements from politicians engaging in dog whistles, making racist and xenophobic statements implicitly and explicitly,” commented IDEAS CEO Dr. Tricia Yeoh.
“Such statements are dangerous and can create an atmosphere of hatred among different communities.
“It is highly irresponsible to employ inflammatory language for the sake of winning political power.
“Creating an ‘us against them’ rhetoric, scapegoating certain communities in the country, and employing a zero-sum game are against the fundamental and constitutional basis that we are all citizens of the same country.
“These acts may also have detrimental long-term effects that will change the fabric of society permanently if we are not careful.
“Section 4A of the Election Offenses Act 1954 provides for clear punishment against those who make statements that may promote ill-will, discontent or hostility among different races during an election, which is imprisonment of up to five years or a fine of a maximum of RM10,000 or both.
“Legal action should be taken against those who deliberately disregard this rule during the campaign,” she continued.
Dr. Yeoh also stated, “Malaysia’s democracy will further consolidate if we have fair political competition between incumbents and the opposition.
“Incumbents typically have an advantage in electoral races due to their access to government resources. This however, does not mean they should take advantage of them by using these resources during the campaign period.
“An election would not be considered fair if the playing field is heavily tilted to those with access to government resources.”
IDEAS wishes all voters in Kedah, Kelantan, Negeri Sembilan, Penang, Selangor and Terengganu the best of luck in exercising their democratic rights and responsibility in choosing their representatives.