Bersih to EC: Explain ‘strange’ decision to bar Suhakam

Shahrul says EC’s integrity is now in question due to the “strange” decision to disallow Suhakam to monitor GE14.

PETALING JAYA: Electoral reform group Bersih 2.0 wants the Election Commission (EC) to state why the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) had been denied permission to monitor the 14th general election (GE14).

Its acting chairman, Shahrul Aman Mohd Saari, said EC’s integrity was now in question due to the “strange” decision to disallow a body like Suhakam, which was established by Parliament.

He said there was no valid reason for the commission not to participate during the polling process on May 9.

He said it was ironic that the government was calling international observers for the election but shunning its own national body on human rights.

“Are they afraid that we may find any wrongdoings in the election?

“As a body formed to be vocal about human rights, Suhakam has the right to monitor anything that involves human rights,” he told FMT.

“In the context of the election, there are many things involving human rights, freedom and democracy as there might be violations of the law and violence in GE14,” he said.

Earlier, Suhakam chairman Razali Ismail said EC had denied the commission’s application to monitor GE14, barring its representatives from entering polling stations.

“Suhakam cannot comprehend this decision, especially as we are informed that there will be international observers during the election,” he said, alluding to observers from Indonesia, Thailand, Maldives, Timor Leste, Cambodia, Kyrgyzstan and Azerbaijan.

“Suhakam considers itself a vehicle of integrity and draws its strength from its legislated mandate to protect and promote human rights in Malaysia and will, in public interest, proceed with its monitoring plan,” Razali added.

Shahrul claimed that EC had not responded to requests from NGOs and civil society bodies for cooperation on certain matters related to the election.

“When EC just keeps mum and does not allow other bodies to participate, it brings into question its integrity as it should be more transparent.”

He said a proper democratic process required the country’s electoral body to work closely with outfits that represented the interests of the people.

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