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MACC says 'nothing wrong' with Zahid dangling money for youths in exchange for votes

Azam Baki says the allocations are part of federal initiatives despite his earlier warnings that any such payments can be considered as corruption.

Staff Writers
2 minute read
Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission chief Azam Baki.
Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission chief Azam Baki.

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) today said there was nothing wrong in the announcement by Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi of hundreds of thousands of ringgit in grants to several bodies in Terengganu in exchange for support for the Pakatan Harapan (PH)-Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition at the coming state polls.

MACC chief commissioner Azam Baki said the agency viewed the grants as a federal allocation.

“This is a ruling government that can implement initiatives that are considered appropriate for the people.

“In my opinion, there is no problem with the giving of these grants as it is a government initiative. If it is an allocation for an initiative that has been approved by the government, there are no elements of corruption,” Azam was quoted as saying by Sinar Harian.

His stand appeared to be in contrast to his warning earlier this year that any form of money given in exchange for votes would be a form of bribery.

“Section 10(a) of the Election Offences Act 1954 is very clear, and whatever general terms are used to defend such arguments are personal interpretations.

“Whether it is ‘charity’ or a ‘contribution’, the law sees it as bribes paid to voters, whether or not the voters themselves asked for it,” Azam was quoted by the same paper as saying on Jan 24 this year.

Speaking in Terengganu on July 28, Zahid who is also the rural and regional development minister announced RM100,000 for a youth organisation, to be channelled through the Central Terengganu Development Authority, or Ketengah.

He also announced RM250,000 for the Terengganu Youth Council and RM200,000 to motor riders associations, adding that Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim would later "top up" the amounts.

Zahid then said that the allocations were on condition that Terengganu youths would support the "blue and red wave", a reference to the BH-PH coalition which is aiming to wrest the state at the Aug 12 polls.

Zahid's announcements came a day after Anwar himself announced RM100 in e-cash for some 10 million adult Malaysians, a move panned on social media as a form of "election goodies".

Azam said the allocations were not a form of bribery.

Yesterday, a police report was lodged against Zahid by Muda, urging the authorities to investigate him for election bribery.

“We condemn the act of using (ministry) funds as campaign modal from any government, what more when it is stated clearly by the deputy prime minister who is also the rural and regional development minister,” the party said in a statement.

Muda president Syed Saddiq Syed adadAbdul Rahman was among those who slammed Zahid, describing his action as a "normalisation of corruption", while former Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin said the matter was serious.

But he said he had no confidence that it would be investigated by MACC.

“Under the anti-corruption act, bribes at any time are prohibited. This is a bribe,” he said in the latest edition of his Keluar Sekejap podcast.