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Arif admits to paying "spies" to collect information

Saturday, 23 August 2008 09:23

SEBERANG PERAI (Aug 22, 2008): Barisan Nasional candidate for the Permatang Pauh by-election Datuk Arif Shah Omar Shah today admitted to paying local residents to help gather information and gauge voter sentiments, saying that this should not be taken to mean vote buying.Without disclosing how many people were recruited for this purpose, he said the money was paid not only to BN campaign workers but also to some residents to act as "spies", although they are not told who they were working for.
"We pay them for going to the ground and gathering information for us. Some of them (voters) do not even know that they are 'working' for BN simply because we never tell them that they are getting information for us. This is how our machinery works," he said when met at his house.
"With additional money to 'operate', our spies can go the coffeeshops to talk to the people and to collect information, so that we can know what is really happening in the constituency; not that we want to buy votes."Arif Shah said the Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) actually wished to do the same, "but we do it first, so now they are using this to attack us."

He was asked about comments by PKR information chief Tian Chua that some voters in Permatang Pauh were getting RM50 to RM300 for cpies of their identity cards, adding that the amount varied according to location and races.He had advised voters not to accept the money and to vote without fear and according to their conscience.On this, Arif Shah explained that the BN did not take the voters' identity cards, but merely recorded the identity card numbers for audit purpose.

"We want to know where our money has gone. It is easier for our auditors to check if we have the identity of those who received the money. PKR has been condemning such tactics used by the BN as the Opposition has already received numerous complaints on the incident; however, no voters who received the money dares to testify in public."Arif Shah also said he is optimistic on his chances to be elected as the MP for the constituency, with only three more days of campaigning left. Polling is on Tuesday.He described the participation of the Angkatan Keadilan Insan Malaysia (Akim) president Hanafi Mamat in the by-election as being to the disadvantage of PKR, as it would split the opposition votes.

"We know that PAS is silently disagreeing with PKR; so I believe a lot of PAS votes will go to Akim and if Hanafi says he is confident of getting 5,000 votes (as reported in the newspaper), this means PKR will lose 5,000 votes, which is good for me," he said.However, when asked, Arif Shah denied that Hanafi was planted by BN to split the votes.Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, when met at the Butterworth Welfare Department where he gave monetary aid to the needy, lamented that as a candidate, Arif Shah should not use such tactics and that he should be disqualified as a candidate.

"This is the culture of BN, we (Pakatan Rakyat) will never do something like this. If BN wanted to give money to the people, it should give to all and not only limited to Permatang Pauh voters or during a general election or by-election," he told reporters.However, Lim, who is DAP's secretary-general, said the idea of using informers can only be accepted if it is for the purpose of upholding justice and fighting corruption.Asked if the Election Commission should act against Arif Shah, he said the commission must take action because as a candidate, he is not even supposed to buy meals for people."But the commission uses double standards. If we are using such tactics, it is definite we will be sanctioned by the commission for violating election laws. So we urge the people not to accept the money from BN," he added.


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