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Saturday, June 29, 2013

Law expert: Federal Court has ruled promising election goodies is not bribery

http://www.thenutgraph.com/user_uploads/images/2010/05/21/210510_HC_NAJIB.jpg 
(fz.com) - Law expert Azhar Azizan Harun said today the Federal Court has ruled that it is not considered a bribe when an election candidate is addressing the public promising goodies. It is only a bribe when the people are asked to vote in return.

KUALA LUMPUR (June 29): Law expert Azhar Azizan Harun said today the Federal Court has ruled that it is not considered a bribe when an election candidate is addressing the public promising goodies. It is only a bribe when the people are asked to vote in return.
 
Azhar, who is a practicing lawyer, said a minister can make monetary promises if it was not made in a personal capacity but spoken on behalf of the government.
 
“What the cases have shown now is if it was made not in a personal capacity but in his capacity as a minister or prime minister and that promise is not made to just a particular individual or small section of the society, then it is not bribery.
 
“As long there is no bargaining, it is not bribery,” he told a post-election series seminar organised by the Bar Council.
 
“If he is not asking for them to vote for him and there is no acceptance of that request, then it is not bribery,” he added.
 
He also said the challenger in the election petition will have a high burden of proof because they have to prove the case that the candidate had the intention or knowledge to prove there was vote-buying.
 
“It is not an obstacle but a burden that needs to be met and whether it could be met, it has to be seen. It is a bit difficult to prove the intent and knowledge of a candidate but another aspect to that is whether it has affected the results.
 
“That one is almost mathematical in nature. If I win by 1,000 votes, you have to show 501 discrepancies. To show that it has affected the result, otherwise it was not affected.
 
"So, in a way it is quite fair because otherwise, if I win by 1,000 votes and you just show 20 discrepancies and the result can be voided. That is not fair,” he said.
 
“That is the law as it is. That is the law everywhere. It is of course slightly tough to challenge but that is the burden. Otherwise an election result could just be too easily challenged, and that is not good also,” he said.
 
Earlier, Azhar pointed out that Section 32 of the Election Offence Act 1954 had placed five provisions in which an election can be deemed void.
 
Section 32 states that the election of a candidate at any election shall be declared to be void on an election petition on any of the following grounds only, which may be proved to the satisfaction of the Election Judge:
 
(a) that general bribery, general treating or general intimidation have so extensively prevailed that they may be reasonably supposed to have affected the result of the election;
 
(b) non-compliance with the provisions of any written law relating to the conduct of any election if it appears that the election was not conducted in accordance with the principles laid down in such written law and that such non-compliance affected the result of the election;
 
(c) that a corrupt practice or illegal practice was committed in connection with the election by the candidate or with his knowledge or consent, or by any agent of the candidate;
 
(d) that the candidate personally engaged a person as his election agent, or as a canvasser or agent, knowing that such person had within seven years previous to such engagement been convicted or found guilty of a corrupt practice by a Sessions Court, or by the report of an Election Judge; or
 
(e) that the candidate was at the time of his election a person disqualified for election.

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