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Thursday, January 31, 2019

Act Against Hadi For Divisive Statements, EC Told

(FMT) – A lawyer has called on the Election Commission (EC) to lodge a police report against PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang, who told voters in the Cameron Highlands by-election that it was the duty of Muslims to vote only for Muslim candidates.
Syed Iskandar Syed Jaafar Al Mahdzar said in doing so, the PAS leader had violated the law by using religious sentiments to woo Muslim voters.
“The EC must show that it is serious, and that no one is allowed to flout the law like using race and religion to rile up a section of the community to vote in a certain way,” he told FMT.
He said failure to act might encourage leaders from both sides of the political divide to do the same in the upcoming Semenyih by-election, whose campaign will begin after nomination day on Feb 16.
Hadi had said it was the religious duty of Muslims to vote only for Muslims in order to bring an “Islamic voice” to Parliament.
He urged Muslim voters to trust only Muslims to represent them, saying non-Muslims had no concept of sin and heavenly reward. This, the Marang MP reportedly said, made them unfit to sit in Parliament.
Syed Iskandar said the EC must be consistent in its action as it had lodged a police report against Pakatan Harapan candidate M Manogaran for wearing a shirt with the coalition’s logo at a polling station.
The EC, which lodged the report at the Sungai Koyan police station, said Manogaran had violated the Election Offences Act (EOA) 1954.
Syed Iskandar said he believed Hadi had violated the same act by promoting feelings of ill will or hostility.
Section 4A of the EOA states that any person who before, during or after an election, makes any statement with a view or tendency towards promoting feelings of ill will, discontent or hostility between persons of the same or different races in order to induce electors to vote has committed an offence.
Those found guilty can be jailed for up to five years, fined a maximum of RM10,000, or both.
He or she will also be barred from contesting in an election for five years and removed from the list of voters.
Lawyer Lim Wei Jit said the provision was included in the EOA as the legislature had seen the effect of attempts to stoke racial and religious divisions during election periods.
“Politicians should also bear in mind that it is a crime under the Penal Code to make racially and religiously divisive statements,” he said.
He said this could be seen in multiple provisions including Section 298 (uttering words with the intent to wound the religious feelings of others), Section 504 (intentional insult with the intent to provoke a breach of peace) and Section 505 (uttering statements conducive to public mischief).

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