ACCREDITATION: The NGOs are non-partisan and are professional bodies, says polls commission chief.
PUTRAJAYA: FIVE local non-governmental-organisations (NGOs) have been accredited as observers for the 13th general election in Peninsular Malaysia.
They will work within the rules and regulations set by the Election Commission (EC).
The NGOs are the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS), Merdeka Centre, Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute (Asli), Transparency International Malaysia (TI-M) and the Association for the Promotion of Human Rights (Proham).
Commission chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof said the organisations were selected because they were considered non-partisan and were professional bodies.
“As far as the EC is concerned, we have nothing to hide. This is why we hope to have local and international observers at the 13th general election.”
He, however, did not say whether the Malaysians for Free and Fair Elections (Mafrel) would be included in the list.
“We have had some experience with Mafrel. It is not independent and is biased. It supports certain political parties.”
Aziz said the selected NGOs had, in principle, agreed to the commission’s terms and conditions.
“They will work in a group. Their job is just to monitor, record the election’s weaknesses, process the information and give us feedback.
“They are not allowed to stop or interfere in the election process. Most importantly, they are not allowed to speak or talk to the media or give statements regarding the election.”
Aziz said if any of the NGOs broke the rules, their accreditation would be terminated immediately.
On international observers for the election, Aziz said they were working with the Foreign Affairs Ministry to invite countries which had invited Malaysia as observers in their respective nation’s election.
“Regionally, all Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) members will be invited, except for Brunei, which does not have elections, and Singapore, which rejected our accreditation application to become observer in its recent election.”
Aziz said the EC was also looking at inviting various international bodies, such as the United Nations, to monitor the election.
In an immediate response, IDEAS chief executive Wan Saiful Wan Jan said they were honoured to be one of the observers and praised the bold move by the EC.
“The move showed that they are serious in their efforts to be transparent and fair,” he said when contacted by the New Straits Times yesterday.
He said IDEAS had had meetings with the EC several times to discuss its role in the upcoming election.
“Our role is more of a domestic election observer and to monitor what is happening. We will finalise the terms of reference and will consult the EC on issues but will work independently.”
He said there were discussions to also include NGOs from Sabah and Sarawak as well.
TI-M deputy president Prof Datuk Mohd Ali Hasan said his organisation would ensure that the NGOs worked together.
“We will try our best to cooperate in the interest of the people and ensure that the forthcoming election will be conducted in a responsible manner.”
Source: New Straits Times