Are politicians allowed as election observers, Bersih asks EC

Lajim Ukin wearing an EC observer tee-shirt and tag at the nomination centre in Sandakan yesterday.

PETALING JAYA: Bersih 2.0 wants the Election Commission (EC) to explain its decision to allow politicians to be appointed as election observers after one of them was spotted wearing the observer tag at the nomination centre in Sandakan yesterday.

“EC has to explain on what basis were they appointed or was there a failure in their SOP to screen applicants as election observers,” the electoral reform group said in a statement today, in response to pictures of Lajim Ukin wearing the EC’s official tee-shirt and tag for observers.

Lajim recently defected to PPBM from the now defunct Parti Harapan Rakyat Sabah.

Bersih asked if the EC had a policy on whether active politicians could be appointed as election observers and if there was a clear standard operating procedure to vet those who applied to be observers.

It said it was of the view that election observers should be individuals or organisations who were not aligned to any political parties and should not be active politicians, “let alone be from contesting parties”.

It said this was in keeping with the standard set out in the Declaration of Global Principles for Non-Partisan Election Observation and Monitoring by Citizen Organisations (Venice Commission).

According to Bersih, observers must be non-partisan as they have to evaluate the overall integrity of the election process. Their reports can add or diminish legitimacy to the result of elections.

The Sandakan parliamentary by-election on May 11 will see a five-cornered fight among Parti Bersatu Sabah, DAP and three independent candidates.

The seat fell vacant following the death of the MP, Stephen Wong Tien Fatt, last month.