JOHOR BARU: The government’s decision to bring forward the Bantuan Keluarga Malaysia (BKM) payment to the last week of the campaigning period could be seen as an election offence, says Thomas Fann.

The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih) chairman added that the last date for payment for phase four of BKM is set for Nov 18, which is the day before polling day on Nov 19.

“The aid was supposed to be given next month, but it was brought forward to the last week of polling day.

“This is taxpayer’s money and not the political parties’ money, so this could be seen as an election offence and a form of bribery before the election,” he said.

He said this when met after the sharing session for Bersih’s first book, “Making Democracy Work,” at Saint Mary Hall, Church of the Immaculate Conception Johor Baru, here, on Saturday (Nov 12).

Fann shared that one of Bersih’s main roles in this election is to monitor the campaign period for any election offences.

“We recorded election offences almost on a daily basis; from giving free motor oil to throwing dinners.

“But the most common one is actually the abuse of state resources by either the ministers or the state government exco.

“They are running programmes in the name of official duties when they are actually campaigning as the candidate in the area is present, and there are political party flags being displayed at the function,” he said.

Although this is not considered an election offence, he believes it violates the rule of fair play, because they have an advantage over their opponents.

Asked for his view on the expected voter turnout, Fann shared that the number of voters has increased to 42% in GE15 compared to GE14.

“Even if everyone who voted in GE14 came out to vote, we would only get around 58% voter turnout.

“So, we really need the new and first-time voters, about 6.2 million of them, to come out and vote,” he said, adding that even then it would be unlikely to achieve more than 80% turnout.