Chia: If giving out to poor is wrong, giving mandarin oranges is also wrong

In Sun2surf on January 29, 2008 at 12:27 am

Opalyn Mok

PENANG (Jan 28, 2008): If giving out items to the poor could be construed as a bid to fish for votes, Gerakan secretary-general Datuk Seri Chia Kwang Chye asked the Opposition if it is also wrong to give out mandarin oranges during the Chinese New Year. “The Opposition seems to be deciding on what we (Barisan Nasional representatives) can or cannot give, so this year I better not give out ‘kam’ (mandarin oranges) or else the gesture will be misinterpreted,” he told a press conference today after handing out school bags to poor students in SK Padang Tembak.

Chia, who is also Bukit Bendera MP and Deputy Information Minister, said it is normal practice for elected representatives to give out aid or items during festive seasons or when their constituents ask for it.

“I have been handing out books and school bags to poor students, clothes to the poor during festivals and other aids on various occassions. It is my duty as an elected representative to care for my constituents and help those in need,” he said in an indirect response to a claim by the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih) that Gerakan was giving away rice to fish for votes more than a week ago.

He jokingly added that perhaps he should not have given out school bags to students and books to the school as it is “wrong”.

“Maybe the Opposition may say it is wrong to give out books. Perhaps the students should instead be given ‘Rocket Kid’ (a DAP soft toy which is part of the party’s election slogan now being sold) to play with, rather than just books,” he said.

When asked to comment on Bersih’s allegations that he and Kebun Bunga assemblyman Quah Kooi Heong’s actions in distributing rice with the “Gimme 5” logo had breached a section in the Election Offences Act 1954, Chia refused to comment.

“I am not a lawyer, I don’t know anything about what section or anything so I don’t want to comment on it,” he said. When pressed for details on the rice distribution, Chia also refused comment.

As for Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR)’s plans to lodge a police report against them for the alleged breach, Chia said he will only comment after the fact.

“I will wait for them to say or do whatever they have to say or do before I will respond. I can’t respond to something that is yet to happen,” he said.

Last week, Bersih called on Chia and Quah to admit to the alleged breach of Section 10 (c) of the Election Offences Act 1954 which prohibits any person from providing voters with gifts before, during and after an election.

Quah and Chia had distributed packets of rice weighing 5kg each with the green palm print bearing the words Bukit Bendera and Gimme 5 labels attached in the Rifle Range area more than a week ago.

Quah reportedly responded that the Gimme 5 slogan refers to the five principles of the Rukun Negara and is not an election slogan.


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