Press Release (28th April 2019): Politicians Should Not Be Appointed As The Election Commission’s Pemerhati

Press Release (28th April 2019)
Politicians Should Not Be Appointed As The Election Commission’s Pemerhati
The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0) question if the Election Commission (EC) should appoint politicians as their Pemerhati (election observer). Does the EC have a policy as to whether politically-active politicians can be election observers with the EC and if there is, a clear Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) to vet applicants to be a Pemerhati?
Yesterday at the nomination centre for the Sandakan by-election, Datuk Lajim Ukin was seen wearing the EC’s official tee-shirt and name tag of a Pemerhati. Lajim was the former President of the now defunct Parti Harapan Rakyat Sabah (PHRS) and is now part of PPBM (Sabah), a coalition partner of Pakatan Harapan (PH), whose component party DAP is contesting in the by-election.
Bersih 2.0 is of the view that election observers should be individuals or organizations who are not aligned to any political parties and should not be politically-active politicians, let alone be from contesting parties. This is in keeping with the standard set out in the Declaration of Global Principles for Non-Partisan Election Observation and Monitoring by Citizen Organizations (Venice Commission). The importance of having non-partisan observers for elections cannot be overstated as observers have to evaluate the overall integrity of the election process and their reports can add or diminish legitimacy to the result of elections. Can politically-partisan politicians be neutral observers?
If Lajim or any other politicians were indeed appointed as Pemerhati, then EC has to explain on what basis were they appointed or was there a failure in their SOP to screen applicants for Pemerhati?
Bersih 2.0 lauds the openness of EC since GE14 in appointing many local citizen groups and NGOs, including Bersih 2.0, as part of their Pemerhati programme but they must not tarnish the integrity of the programme and undermine the neutrality of the EC by appointing politically-active politicians as election observers.
Statement issued by:
Steering Committee of Bersih 2.0