PUTRAJAYA: Candidates contesting in the 13th general election will be held responsible for the actions of their agents, Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail said.
He said the court had decided that any individual, including general workers of the political party promoting the candidates, should not discredit their opponents as stipulated in the Election Offences Act 1954.
“In the case of Harris Mohd Salleh vs The Returning Officer, Ismail Majin & Ors, 2001, the meaning of agent has been given a broader interpretation.
“The court decided that any person (including general workers of a political party) who is actively involved in promoting their candidates during the election campaign, including by putting up billboards discrediting the opponent, is violating subsection 11(1)(c) (publishes any advertisement, handbill, placard or poster which refers to any election and which does not bear the names and addresses of its printer and publisher) or subsection 11(1)(d) (makes or publishes, before or during any election, any false statement in relation to the candidate) of the the Act.
“Discrediting any individual is an offence and they can be charged in court. Besides, the election results (in the constituency) can be declared null and void,” he said in a recent interview.
This was because the general workers of the political party could be deemed as the candidate's election agents if their actions were approved directly or indirectly by the candidate, hence holding the candidate responsible for all their actions.
Abdul Gani said any public officer could not be appointed or asked to execute the tasks of an election agent and should not be involved in any political activities, except for those allowed to be involved under the Public Officers (Conduct and Discipline) Regulations 1993.
“A member of the caretaker government must work with public officers for the purpose of discharging his official duties as a minister.”
He added that the caretaker government, however, could only use billboards and advertisements, as well as government campaign tools for the benefit of the public.
This would include promoting healthcare, healthy lifestyles, public adherence of traffic laws and fighting social problems.
“However, those billboards and advertisements cannot contain politically-oriented statements for the purpose of an election campaign. It should not promote any member of the caretaker government.”
Abdul Gani also explained that government websites should only be used to disseminate information about ongoing policies and programmes and should not be abused. - Bernama
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