Bersih wants international observers for general election

Jan 8, 08 4:37pm

Polls reform group Bersih today issued a challenge to the Election Commission to invite international observers to observe and monitor the upcoming general election.

“If the EC is proud of its integrity and competence, and feels strongly about the ‘clean and fair’ state of Malaysian elections, Bersih challenges (chairperson) Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman to graciously issue an open invitation to all electoral authorities and election experts from all over the world to observe the elections,” Bersih said in a statement today.
“If it has nothing to be ashamed of, surely the government – which likes to boast about Malaysia’s 50 years of ‘strong democracy’ – would support and welcome international observers for the upcoming elections,” added the statement.
Bersih added that these observers should be allowed to monitor the entire electoral process (including the pre-election political and legal environment) and not just limited to polling day.
Bersih also reminded the EC and the government that former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad had dated to invite observers from the Commonwealth Secretariat to monitor the 1990 general election.
At the time Umno was facing its most serious challenge, said Bersih.
Bersih – or in its full name the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections – said that inviting international observers was one of the best ways to deter electoral fraud and lend credibility to the probity and legitimacy of elections.
Comprising of six political parties and 66 non-governmental organisations and civil society groups, Bersih was formed in July 2005 to push for a thorough reform of the electoral process in Malaysia.
Police report lodged
It added that the EC was better off inviting these international observers rather than challenging opposition parties to boycott the elections.
Early last week Abdul Rashid had said that the opposition parties should stay away from the general election if they have doubts that it would be fair and transparent, and came under criticism over his remarks from various quarters over this “irresponsible” statement.
On a related matter, the PAS Wilayah Youth wing today lodged a police report against Abdul Rashid over his‘boycott the polls’ remark.
The report was made by the state youth wing chief Kamaruzaman Mohamad at the Dang Wangi police station.
“We see Abdul Rashid’s remark as being irresponsible which should not have been made by a person appointed by the king in accordance with the federal constitution,” Kamaruzaman said in the report.
“His challenge also indicated his antagonism against the opposition parties. It also showed that the EC was being impartial.”
Meanwhile the Johor PAS Youth wing is expected to lodge a similar report against Abdul Rashid at the Johor Baru Central police station tomorrow morning.