GPS cannot urge community leaders and headmen to vote for them

Sarawak Bersih Chairman Ann Teo (Astro Awani Pic)

By Emma Victoria

BERSIH Sarawak has urged the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) to respect the democratic right of every person to vote for the candidate or party of their choice.

Its chairman Ann Teo said that regardless of whether the voter is a civil servant or receives an allowance from the government of the day to perform their duties, they should be free to make their own decisions.

She said public resources does not belong to the GPS political parties while those in the civil services and community leaders are appointed to serve the people and their welfare.

“Furthermore, they are not employed to vote for the ruling parties,” she said in a statement today.

She was commenting on Tasik Biru assemblyman Datuk Henry Harry Jinep recent statement, urging the Village Security and Development Committee (JKKK) secretariat in Bau to vote for GPS, otherwise, they must quit.

“Has the YB forgotten that the state government uses public taxes and oil funds from state coffers to pay the JKKK?” she questioned.

She said the call to vote GPS smacks of politics of patronage and reinforces a subservient mentality expected of the members of the JKKK to the ruling party.

“Such values and attitudes have no place in a progressive Sarawak especially if it claims to be a mature government ready to take on the responsibilities of a democratic state.”

Teo said if such a call were to be made during an election, it could be construed as a violation of Section 9 of the Election Offences Act which stipulates that anyone who makes use of any force to induce or compel another to vote for a certain party may be guilty of undue influence which is a punishable offence.

“What transpired has underscored the urgent need to reform the current system of rural or local governance at village level,” she said, adding that the Community Chiefs and Headmen Ordinance 2004 is archaic and has to be abolished.

“Local and village council elections have to be revived and the rights of villagers and likewise rate-payers to choose their councillors at local government level through democratic elections has to be returned to the rakyat.”

“The rationale is simple, so that village committee if chosen from and by the people can only be beholden to the needs of the people and no other institution or elected representative of the constituency,” she added.