EC says only court can decide if ECRL announcement is election inducement

09 Apr 2019 / 19:46 H.

GEORGE TOWN: The Election Commission (EC) cannot ascertain if the announcement that the proposed East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) may run through Negri Sembilan can be interpreted as an election inducement.

EC deputy chairman Dr Azmi Sharom said this is despite the announcement being made during campaigning for the Rantau state by-election.

“That is something for the courts to decide (if a formal complaint was lodged). One possible offence is the abuse of power as determined by our anti-corruption laws,“ he said.

Furthermore, the EC was not present at the event where the alleged announcement was made by Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng, he added.

Lim’s statement was later reinforced by Transport Minister Anthony Loke Siew Fook, who also mentioned the possibility that the ECRL may be re-routed to include Negri Sembilan, which is the state where the Rantau by-election is being held.

“We were not there so we will be basing our statement on hearsay. There is a shortage of local cases to guide us in interpreting whether an act falls clearly within the ambit of our laws,“ Azmi, a law professor from Universiti Malaya, said.

His views were sought after the Barisan Nasional candidate Datuk Seri Mohamed Hasan had suggested in a news report that the use of the ECRL could be constituted as an election offence.

Mohamed, who is referred to as “Tok Mat,“ said much has been said about the ECRL, but to suggest now that it may run through Negri Sembilan when it was not under the original plan, is an electoral offence.

“I never knew this because it was never mentioned before. So again, I hope the EC will probe this.”

The by-election on Saturday sees a four — way fight between Mohamad, Pakatan Harapan’s Dr S. Streram and independents lecturer Mohd Nor Yassin and former radio host R. Malarvihzi.

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