The restrictions placed on the five selected organisations as election observers are ridiculous, says Bersih.
“Bersih 2.0 calls upon the EC to go back to the drawing board on its election observation policy by holding transparent and inclusive public consultations, to make independent and credible election observations possible,” it said in a statement today.
Early last week, after much pressure from the public, the EC announced that five NGOs would be allowed to be election monitors in the upcoming general election.
The five selected were 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).
Commenting on the decision, EC chairman Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof said: “”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.”
The EC is also currently in discussion with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to invite international observers from countries which Malaysia has served as election observers.
Some election-related NGOs however have criticised the EC for adding restrictive rules which the observers have to abide by.
Some of those restrictions include prohibition to speak to the media, prohibition to take photographs of fraud without the approval of the EC officers and prohibition to release any information to others before reporting to the EC.
Bersih in its statement added that these restrictions were “ridiculous and unjustified” and asked if the EC was sincere in allowing these independent groups to observe the elections.
It also wants the EC to broaden the number of independent groups selected as observers. It said that the EC needs to put in place a proper selection criteria – as oppose to arbitrary selection- so that any interested and qualified group should be able to apply.
“One cannot find legitimate excuses why the Malaysian Election Observers’ Network (MEO-Net) which had exposed vote buying in Sarawak state elections in 2011 is excluded.
“Bersih warns that the EC’s recent announcement on the selection of five NGOs as observers for the GE13 may be dismissed by the public as a public relations exercise due to its flaws on both the selection criteria and the restriction in observation,” it said.