Good Experience As Observer, Says EC Deputy Chairman

From Nor Faridah Abd Rashid
TASHKENT, Dec 29 (Bernama) — Election Commission deputy chairman Datuk Wan Ahmad Wan Omar described his “duty” as an observer during Uzbekistan’s parliamentary elections Sunday as a good experience.
“I consider it as a very good experience for the members of the Malaysian delegation invited to observe the elections, for us to observe their process of election, which will make us understand more how the process of democracy is taking place in Uzbekistan,” he told Bernama.
He said that Malaysia’s Election Commission and Uzbek Central Election Committee (CEC) had signed “an arrangement of cooperation” in 2005 consisting of exchange of visits, experience and training and other activities in efforts to enhance democratic process in each other’s country.
“The cooperation is for mutual benefit for democratic process and democratic election activities of both countries,” Wan Ahmad said.
He expressed his gratitude to Uzbekistan’s CEC on behalf of the Malaysian delegation which he said came from various fields like business, professionals such as lawyers, and the media.
The other Malaysian observers were S.Radhakrishnan, who is honorary secretary of Asean Law Association of Malaysia, Malay Businessmen & Industrialists Association of Malaysia (Perdasama) president Datuk Moehamad Izat Emir and senior lawyer Kamarudin Ahmad who also has a political background.
As for any aspects of the Uzbekistan’s election system which Malaysia could emulate, he said that Uzbekistan has a system where there is a quota for the participation of women candidates at some 30 per cent.
“I think we should emulate this aspect of participation of women which has a high quota of 30 percent. There is assurance of women’s participation in politics, in the process of election and also in parliament as well as in all levels of decision making bodies,” he said.
He said that this was “interesting” as in most countries and even in Malaysia where 49 percent are women voters and 51 percent men, there was no such legislation.
According to reports a change in the legislation quarantees the 30 per cent quota, a change which is likely to be well received by international observers.
Another point which Wan Ahmad noted was the provision for 15 seats to be given automatically to Uzbekistan’s Ecological Movement, which he said was done amidst concerns on environmental issues.
Reports said that the electoral amendment that gave the movement automatic seats were made about the same time the government started criticizing plans to build large hydropower projects in neighbouring Krygyzstan and Tajikistan. The Uzbek government and state media had questioned the environmental consequences of such projects.
The country’s four registered political parties which contested in Sunday’s parliamentary elections were the People’s Democratic Party, Adolat (Justice) Social Democratic Party, Liberal Democratic Party (Movement of Entrepreneurs and Businessmen) and the Milliy Tiklanish (National Revival) Democratic Party.
There are no opposition candidates in Uzbekistan which has held three parliamentary elections since it declared its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.