Heed ban on taking part in election campaign during working hours, Bersih tells ministers

PETALING JAYA: The decision to ban ministers from taking part in election campaigns during their working hours should stay, never mind that the prime minister has called for a relaxation, according to Bersih 2.0.

The electoral watchdog group said EC chairman Azahar Azizan Harun should “stand firm on this” to avoid any perception that the commission was under the control of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

“Such a restriction is reasonable and necessary to prevent abuses of state resources,” Bersih said in a statement today.

It pointed out that such a restriction was also in line with a UN General Assembly Resolution against Corruption.

In India, ministers are prohibited from combining official duties and the use of official machinery and personnel during elections.

Similar restrictions have also been adopted in Australia, Barbados, Canada, Republic of Ireland, Ghana and Namibia, Bersih added.

In response to Mahathir’s concern that such restrictions would put the ruling party at a disadvantage, Bersih said ministers or public officials could apply for annual or unpaid leave if they wish to be involved in election campaigns during normal office hours.