Friday, 6 July 2012

Give Election Observers A Chance

Asli: Give election observers a chance
  • S Pathmawathy
  • 2:36PM Jul 4, 2012
The appointment of five non-governmental movements as election observers is not a ‘public relations' move by the Election Commission (EC), protests Asian Strategy and Leadership institute (Asli) senior vice-president Ng Yeen Seen.

Besides Asli, the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (Ideas), independent pollster Merdeka Centre, Transparency International Malaysia (TI-M) and the Association for the Promotion of Human Rights (Proham) have been offered to observe the looming election.

NONE"We have had only preliminary discussions on guidelines. This is the first time we are embarking on such a project and we are willing to give it a chance," said Ng (left) at a press conference today in Kuala Lumpur.

She reiterated that "negotiations are ongoing", when pressed on whether they agreed to the proposed restriction by the EC to impose a gag on the observers from highlighting discrepancies to the media during the general election which must be called by mid-next year.

She refrained from commenting further, only saying that: "We support the move by the EC to set up a domestic observation group."
The EC's choice of NGOs as election observers drew flak from seasoned election monitoring groups who were snubbed on grounds that they have been seen as "pro-opposition".

Malaysians for Free and Fair Elections (Mafrel) chairperson Syed Ibrahim Syed Noh had complained that these NGOs were chosen over others which specialised in the task, to create an image of "fake transparency".

The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih) lashed out at the decision as a "public relations" exercise and pointed out that there were too many rules that constrained the observers from functioning optimally.

Among the constraints are that the appointed election observers cannot engage with the media, their findings must go through the EC before being published and they cannot able take photographs of fraud without the presiding officer's permission.

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