BERSIH challenges EC and Government to invite international observers

Press Release: 8 January 2008
The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (BERSIH) challenges the Election Commission (EC) and Government to invite international observers to observe and monitor the upcoming General Election.

BERSIH is of the view that that inviting international observers is one of the best ways to deter electoral fraud and lend credibility to the probity and legitimacy of elections.
In a Bernama report on 4 January 2008, EC Deputy Chairman Datuk Wan Ahmad Wan Omar had praised Uzbekistan’s presidential election on 23 December 2007, calling it “democratic, transparent, peaceful and fair” despite several criticisms made by Western leaders.
Datuk Wan Ahmad and five others made up the Malaysian observer team, which was part of the 250 international observers from 30 countries invited by the Central Election Commission of Uzbekistan to attend and witness its election.
Instead of challenging opposition parties to boycott the elections — which constitutes contempt of Article 114(2) of the Federal Constitution, that is, the EC must “enjoy public confidence” – it should now invite international observers to monitor the entire electoral process (including the pre-election political and legal environment) and not just limited to polling day.
It is obvious that the EC takes pride in its role as election observers in other countries. In the words of Datuk Wan Ahmad: “Our selection by Uzbekistan shows that they respect and recognize our experience in the conduct of electoral democracy… which we should feel proud of.
“Not only Uzbekistan… other countries like Kazakhstan, Krygyzstan, Mali, Nepal, Bosnia, Indonesia also extended similar invitations enabling the Malaysian Election Commission to boost ties with these countries.”
As the Malay saying goes, “berani kerana benar, takut kerana salah” (be brave if you are right, be afraid if you are wrong). If the EC is proud of its integrity and competence, and feels strongly about the ‘clean and fair’ state of Malaysian elections, BERSIH challenges Tan Sri Abdul Rashid to graciously issue an open invitation to all electoral authorities and election experts from all over the world to observe the elections.
If it has nothing to be ashamed of, surely the Malaysian Government — which likes to boast about Malaysia’s 50 years of ‘strong democracy’ — would support and welcome international observers for the upcoming elections.
After all, even at a time when UMNO was facing its most serious challenge in 1990, former PM Dr Mahathir still dared to invite observers from the Commonwealth Secretariat to monitor the 1990 General Election.
Is it possible that PM Abdullah Badawi has more to hide from the rakyat than his predecessor?