Statement by Professor Damien Kingsbury – Australian mission volunteers to observe elections

26 April 2012
Malaysia is facing a political crisis. Its government appears to have lost electoral legitimacy and is facing its biggest challenge to holding onto power since independence half a century ago.
As with the flowering of democratic movements in other countries over the past year, Malaysia now appears to be approaching its own ‘democratic spring’.

In order for forestall this blossoming of democracy in Malaysia, the government has hobbled the electoral commission, has rorted the electoral process through disproportionate parliamentary seats and a range of other matters that continue to require investigation.

The government now appears ready to stage elections at a time it believes will produce the best results for itself.
It is the responsibility of the government, as custodian of the state, to serve its citizens – this is the sole reason for being of the state and the role of government in it. In order to do this, the people who run the state must be selected by the citizens to represent them, in a transparent and accountable manner.
This, in turn, implies the necessity of free and fair elections.

If the government of Malaysia believes that its electoral process will free and fair, according to international standards, we would welcome being invited to come to Malaysia as independent electoral observers. If the Malaysian government does not invite independent international observers, the question will be left: What do they have to hide?

We hope they do not feel the need to hide anything. We welcome the opportunity to observe and monitor Malaysia’s next elections, when ever they might be held. We will be there, supportng democracy in Malaysia, as expressed through a free and fair expression of the will of the Malaysian people.
Professor Damien Kingsbury is Director, Centre for Citizenship, Development and Human Rights at DeakinUniversity, Melbourne, and is coordinator of the Australian Friendship observer mission to the East Timor elections, as well as having been an accredited observer to elections in Indonesia and Cambodia.