KUALA LUMPUR: Let the courts decide if handing out RM1,000 cash to fishermen in Tanjung Piai next week amounts to vote buying, says Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Datuk Salahuddin Ayub.
“At times, there are differing interpretations and only the courts can decide this.
“If I go to Tanjung Piai tomorow night and hand out cash and ask them (fishermen) to vote for Pakatan Harapan, then this is corruption which is not allowed,” he said when answering a supplementary question by Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan (BN-Pontian) in Dewan Rakyat on Thursday (Nov 7).
Ahmad said Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu had said the week before that the RM1,000 special fishermen aid would not be given out at the moment as it would constitute an election offence.
“But yesterday (Nov 6), Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Dr Sahruddin Jamal said the RM1,000 cash would be handed to the fishermen next week.
“What is your view on the cash handout as being against election laws if it was given out next week?” he asked.
Salahuddin defended his right as a minister to hand over aid to the fishermen, adding it was in line with the wishes of the late Datuk Dr Md Farid Md Rafik.
“As ministers, we can give it (the aid) at any time. It doesn’t matter to me as long as the fishermen and people benefit,” he said.
Salahuddin’s response saw several Opposition lawmakers standing up to further question him on the matter, with Ahmad suggesting the aid be given out at a later date after the by-election.
“If what we are doing is against the Election Act, let the courts decide,” Salahuddin replied.
Last month, Salahuddin denied accusations that the RM3mil allocation for three jetties in Tanjung Piai amounted to election goodies.
He said he was merely fulfilling the request made by the late Dr Md Farid.
The by-election is being held following the death of Dr Md Farid, who was also Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, on Sept 21.
In the GE14, Dr Md Farid won the seat with a slim 524-vote majority over Barisan Nasional candidate Datuk Seri Dr Wee Jeck Seng and PAS candidate Nordin Othman.
The Nov 16 by-election will see a six cornered fight between Wee, Barisan Jemaah Ismiah Se-Malaysia’s (Berjasa) president Badhrulhisham Abdul Aziz, Pakatan’s Karmaine Sardini, Gerakan deputy secretary-general Wendy Subramaniam including independents Faridah Aryani Abdul Ghaffar and Ng Chuan Lock.
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