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Thread: SPR: 5 NGOs to act as local election monitors for GE13

   
   
       
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    SPR: 5 NGOs to act as local election monitors for GE13


    5 NGOs to act as local monitors for GE13

    12:25PM Jun 25, 2012


    http://malaysiakini.com/news/201801

    The Election Commission (EC) has selected five local NGOs as observers to monitor the next general election, but they will have to abide by its conditions including a gag order against speaking to the media.

    According to a New Straits Times report, the groups are the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (Ideas), independent pollster Merdeka Centre, Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute (Asli), Transparency International Malaysia (TI-M) and the Association for the Promotion of Human Rights (Proham).

    Both Ideas and Asli are private think-tanks while Proham is a human rights body comprising former commissioners of the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia.

    EC chief Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof said they have been selected because they are deemed to be non-partisan and professional bodies.

    “As far as the EC is concerned, we have nothing to hide. This is why we hope to have local and international observers at the 13th general election,” he was quoted as saying.

    However, the EC has set terms and conditions for the five NGOs.

    “They are not allowed to stop or interfere in the election process. Most importantly, they are not allowed to speak to the media or give statements regarding the election,” said Abdul Aziz.

    He did not reveal the status of Malaysians for Free and Fair Elections (Mafrel), the election monitoring group once appointed by the EC but later accused as being biased and pro-opposition.

    Mafrel had released statement attacking the EC and the election process after monitoring several by-elections.

    On international observers, Abdul Aziz said countries that had invited Malaysia as observers in their elections will be invited to send monitors.

    “Regionally, all Asean members will be invited except for Brunei, which does not have elections, and Singapore, which rejected our accreditation application to become an observer in its recent election,” he was quoted as saying.

    He said the EC is also looking at inviting various international bodies, such as the UN.

    ‘Give manifesto plan a chance’

    In another report published by Malay daily Sinar Harian, Abdul Aziz called on political parties to accept the proposal to air pre-recorded party manifestos over Radio Television Malaysia during the next general election campaign.

    Responding to PAS' statement yesterday that this could lead to messages being edited and becoming distorted, Abdul Aziz said he wants Pakatan Rakyat to give the initiative a chance before casting doubts on it.

    “I have put in (much) effort to obtain the space. It is better for us to use this chance first before making negative comments,” he added.

    “Let's try first. If what has been said by the relevant quarters is (proven) true, they can comment on it (later).”
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    Ambiga: Don't restrict polls observers


    • Susan Loone


    • 6:04PM Jun 25, 2012


    http://malaysiakini.com/news/201855

    Bersih chief Ambiga Sreenevasan has welcomed the naming of five non-governmental organisations by the Election Commission (EC) to monitor the coming general election.

    However, Ambiga does not agree with the "unnecesary restrictions" to be placed on the NGOs.

    She also expressed concerns that the NGOs may not be experienced in election monitoring and they should therefore be given the necessary training.

    "This will ensure that they are competent to do the job of election monitoring," Ambiga told journalists on the sidelines of the inaugural conference of the Asean Coalition for Clean Governance in Penang today.

    "We hope they are appointed very soon so that they can go through the proper training and start their tasks as soon as possible as it is not enough just to be observers," she added.

    According to the EC, the NGOs would have to abide by its conditions, including a gag order on speaking to the media.

    The groups named by the EC are Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (Ideas), independent pollster Merdeka Centre, Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute (Asli), Transparency International-Malaysia (TI-M) and the Association for the Promotion of Human Rights (Proham).

    Ideas and Asli are private think-tanks while Proham is a human rights body comprising former commissioners of the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia.

    EC chief Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof (above, left) said they have been selected because they are deemed to be non-partisan and professional bodies.

    Is EC chief still an Umno member?

    Ambiga said Bersih also welcomed the plan by EC to invite independent monitors for the next general election - and called for this to be made "definite".

    Over and above these issues, she said, Aziz also needed to resolve the allegations that he was an Umno member and if he still was, he should vacate his chairmanship since it would be a conflict of interest.

    Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz has said the EC chief was no longer an Umno member.

    "Aziz has to make his position very clear as this needs to be explained to the people," Ambiga said.

    She stressed that the allegations of Umno membership surrounding the EC deputy chief, Wan Ahmad Wan Mokhtar, also needed to be clarified.

    "These officials are appointed under the Federal Constitution, so they cannot play the fool with their appointments," Ambiga added.
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    Experienced polls observer turns down EC invite


    • Jonathan Yong


    • 7:36AM Jun 26, 2012

    http://malaysiakini.com/news/201878

    Although the Election Commission (EC) has proudly named five NGOs as observers for the 13th general election, a NGO which has extensive experience in monitoring elections has chosen to sit it out.

    The National Institute for Democracy and Electoral Integrity (NIEI) which, unlike the other five groups, has experience in observing elections overseas, said it does not agree with the conditions the EC wants to impose on the observers.

    NIEI chairperson K Shan (left) told Malaysiakini that his organisation turned down the EC's invitation because there is no legal mechanism to regulate the observers and also because the EC framework was drawn up in an ad-hoc manner.

    "Election observing must be objective and independent to ensure an open process. How can we be observers when there is no mechanism to govern the observers?" asked Shan, a lawyer by training.

    NIEI has been part of two dozen international election monitoring missions, including in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Indonesia and Taiwan.

    The NGO has also conducted an independent audit on the national electoral roll in March, which revealed that eight percent of the voters' addresses were invalid.

    Despite turning down the EC invitation, Shan stressed that NIEI would continue to engage with the commission and help formulate regulations governing election observers to ensure transparency and public participation.

    "We will also focus on building the momentum from the ground through grassroots organisations to ensure effective election monitoring," he said.

    This, Shan explained, was to ensure that election monitoring becomes a "participatory, rather than an academic exercise".

    Election monitoring is a major exercise and a sizable team of trained monitors are needed if it is to be effective.

    Some observer groups ignored

    The five NGOs the EC has named as election observers are think-tanks Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (Ideas) and Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute (Asli), graft watchdog Transparency International-Malaysia, human rights body Promotion of Human Rights (Proham) and independent pollster Merdeka Centre.

    However, they must comply with the terms and conditions set out by the EC including a gag order against speaking to the media during the election campaign.

    It is understood that several groups with experience in monitoring elections or expertise in electoral matters have not been invited as observers by the EC, bucking the trend in most of Malaysia's neighbours, including the Philippines, Cambodia, Thailand and Indonesia.

    Among the groups ignored by the EC is Jom Pantau, which has expertise in grassroots election monitoring.

    When contacted, the movement's leader Arul Prakkash was sceptical about the effectiveness of the EC plan.

    Prakkash explained that the purpose of having observers is for them to watch over the EC, but the conditions set will not allow for this.

    "The EC should not impose any restrictions on the observers. It should not stipulate that they cannot talk to the media," he added.
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    Mafrel: EC using NGOs to fake transparency


    • Jonathan Yong


    • 9:21AM Jun 27, 2012

    http://malaysiakini.com/news/201992

    Veteran polls watchdog Malaysians for Free and Fair Elections (Mafrel) has accused the Election Commission (EC) of selecting untested NGOs as election observers as a means of creating an illusion of transparency.

    Mafrel chairperson Syed Ibrahim Syed Noh (left) pointed out that of the five NGOs chosen by the EC to observe the 13th general election, none have expertise or experience in observing elections.

    "Some of the NGOs, like Transparency International Malaysia (TI-M) or Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (Ideas) focus more on the theoretical aspect of elections than work on the ground.

    "Maybe that is why the EC nominated them and not us," said Syed Ibrahim, whose group was once accredited by the EC to observe several by-elections and have participated in numerous international election observation missions.

    The three other NGOs that will be accredited are independent pollsters Merdeka Centre, think-tank Asian Strategic and Leadership Institute (Asli) and human rights watchdog Association for the Promotion of Human Rights (Proham).

    Syed Ibrahim also warned the selected NGOs to be wary of the motive and agenda behind the EC's invitation, saying that the EC only wants to create an illusion of transparency to counter claims made by election reform pressure group Bersih 2.0.

    According to the New Straits Times, EC chairperson Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof had claimed that Mafrel was excluded on the grounds that they are biased and pro-opposition.

    "Everyone may have their own political inclinations, but that doesn't mean we don't conduct ethical monitoring in line with international standards," said Syed Ibrahim, when told of Abdul Aziz's remarks.

    Against international norms

    Syed Ibrahim added that if the EC was sincere about having election observers, they would not have put restrictions on the NGOs and should have allocated a budget for the monitoring efforts.

    "The conditions set are definitely not in line with international norms, where the basic principle is for the bodies to be independent and able to publish their own reports, not gagged throughout the election campaign," he pointed out.

    Abdul Aziz had said that the accredited observers will not be allowed to speak to the media throughout the election campaign.

    It is also understood that the reports by the NGOs will be vetted by the EC before they are made public.

    One group with the expertise and experience in international election observation missions - the National Institute for Democracy and Electoral Integrity (NIEI) - has declined EC's invitation to be accredited as an official election observer.

    The group said that it did so because it opposes the conditions the EC has imposed on poll monitors.
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    EC wants more Sarawak NGOs as polls observers

    • Bernama


    • 11:02AM Jun 27, 2012


    http://malaysiakini.com/news/201998

    The Election Commission (EC) plans to appoint several non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in Sarawak as observers during the 13th general election.

    Deputy chairperson Wan Ahmad Wan Omar said four NGOs in Sarawak have been identified for appointment as observers to monitor the election process for Kuching zone.

    The four NGOs are Sarawak Malay Association, Orang Ulu Association, Muslim Youth Association (Sarawak branch) and Sarawak Youth Association.

    “The EC will meet with several NGOs in Sibu and Miri to appoint them as observers,” he told a press conference after a briefing for election campaign enforcement teams in Kuching yesterday.

    Wan Ahmad said the organisations selected for appointment as observers have proven to be apolitical.

    Three Sabah organisations offered for appointment as election observers are the Sabah Youth Council, Sabah Historical Society and Human Rights Association (Sabah branch).

    Five NGOs picked for appointment as observers are the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (Ideas), Merdeka Centre, Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute (Asli), Transparency International Malaysia (TI-M) and Human Rights Association.

    Wan Ahmad said 64 election campaign enforcement teams had been formed in Sarawak and will be added on the request of returning officers for each constituency.

    Each team consists of an EC officer, police inspector, local authority officer and a representative for each election candidate.

    Their task is to ensure that contesting political parties observe the election regulations.

    - Bernama
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    Abim upset by 'arbitrary' selection of polls observers


    • Jonathan Yong


    • 8:22AM Jun 28, 2012


    http://malaysiakini.com/news/202104

    Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia (Abim) has expressed dissatisfaction with the "arbitrary" nature of the selection of election observers by the Election Commission (EC).

    The five groups accredited by the EC as poll observers do not appear to have much background in electoral monitoring, Abim president Amidi Abdul Manan told Malaysiakini.

    "What are the criteria by which these non-governmental organisations were chosen? Was it based on experience, connections or prestige?" Amidi asked.

    In the interest of transparency, he said, the EC should clarify the criteria it used to appoint the five NGOs.

    The five are think-tanks Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (Ideas) and Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute (Asli), graft watchdog Transparency International-Malaysia, human rights body Association for Promotion of Human Rights (Proham) and independent pollster Merdeka Centre.

    Amidi said Abim had applied to be election observer back in April, but the EC had yet to reply.

    He said unlike the five NGOs the EC has picked, Abim had some experience in observing elections, noting that his group had teamed up on this with elections monitor Malaysians for Free and Fair Elections (Mafrel) during the 1999 general election.

    "We are committed to the cause of Bersih, and want to contribute towards free and fair elections in Malaysia," he said in explaining his organisation's desire to be accredited as an election observer.

    EC rapped for conditions imposed

    Amidi also criticised the conditions EC has imposed on its accredited observers, which include a gag order preventing them from talking to the media during the electoral campaign period.

    "These conditions are not in accordance with international norms," he said.

    It is understood that another condition is for the EC to vet reports by the NGOs before these are released to the public.

    Although Abim will not be an accredited observer, Amidi said, it would be willing to aid the five NGOs through its extensive grassroots network in data collection.

    Abim will also be giving training to election volunteers to help them spot electoral irregularities.

    The NGO is not the only group that is peeved with the EC's choice of accredited election observers.

    Mafrel, which was snubbed by the EC despite having international election observer experience, has also disparaged the selection of the five NGOs.

    It ticked off the EC yesterday for picking the less-experienced organisations in order to create the illusion of transparency.
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    Regional polls watchdog urges EC to be transparent
    10:23AM Jun 29, 2012


    http://malaysiakini.com/news/202212

    A regional polls watchdog has urged the Malaysian Election Commission (EC) to show transparency in the accreditation of election observers.

    In a press release yesterday, the Asian Network for Free and Fair Election (Anfrel) said it was important for the EC to prove that it was not acting in bias.

    "To minimise the dangers of this, when the EC decides not to accredit a particular group, it should provide due process to the groups to whom it refuses to provide accreditation.

    "If the EC believes it has reason to deny a particular group, it must show proper cause and provide an explanation for, and the evidence behind, their decision-making," said the Bangkok-based group.

    Rejections should be open to appeal, said Anfrel. This will help the EC avert accusations of arbitrary or non-partial decision-making.

    "This process needs to be a part of a broader framework of regulations or guidelines for election observation that the EC will hopefully establish," read the statement.

    On Monday, it was revealed that the EC had accredited five groups, whose core activities are unrelated to polls , as election observers in peninsular Malaysia for the 13th general election.

    The EC had also accredited three groups as observers in Sabah and Sarawak, also not experienced polls monitors.

    Some peninsular Malaysia-based groups rejected by the EC have complained that such appointments appear arbitrary and they are not aware of the commission's requirements.

    Another group which has several years of experience in monitoring elections overseas, the National Institute for Democracy and Electoral Integrity, turned down the EC's invitation to become an election observer on grounds that no proper legal framework was in place for such work to be done properly.

    International observers' presence urged

    While urging the EC to accredit several "experienced, professional election observation groups" that currently exist in Malaysia, Anfrel also urged the commission to admit international observers.

    "International observers add an additional objective voice and third party judgment as non-citizens of the country where they are observing," said the group.

    There is no firm word yet on the accreditation of international observers, but EC chief Abdul Aziz Yusof (left) had said that all Asean members - except Brunei and Singapore - will be invited.

    He said the EC was also looking at inviting international bodies, such as the United Nations, to monitor the polls.

    In April, Abdul Aziz said: "What we can do is to have international observers come here as government guests and ask the government to pay for their lodging, food and transport. We want to do this for the coming election".

    Anfrel stressed that there is still time for the EC to accredit more professional election observation groups to maximise their coverage across the country.

    "Once they (the EC) do this, they will send the signal that they are confident in their management of the polls and are transparent about the manner in which the polls will be conducted.

    "By establishing a more clear and transparent accreditation process, the EC can strengthen the observation of the election and, by doing so, the election itself," the statement read.
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    M'sia lags behind in polls observer laws, says NGO


    • Jonathan Yong


    • 9:46AM Jun 29, 2012



    http://malaysiakini.com/news/202209

    The regulatory framework governing election observers in Malaysia does not meet international standards, said the Malaysian Election Observers Network (Meo-net).

    Meo-net coordinator Ong Boon Keong (right) said other countries, such as Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Pakistan, have included the need for election observers in either their laws or the constitution, unlike Malaysia.

    "According to international practice, accreditation should be given to all bona fide parties and only groups with direct affiliation to political parties are rejected.

    "However in Malaysia, such decisions are left entirely to the discretion of the Election Commission (EC) which makes it very difficult for observers to operate," said Ong, who has been invited to observe elections in many countries.

    He argued the lack of a framework allowed the EC to impose unreasonable conditions on polls observers, which include a gag order preventing them from talking to the media during the electoral campaign period.

    The veteran social activist complained that such restrictions were unheard of in other countries.

    "Another condition imposed is observers will have to ask permission from polling station officers to take pictures of evidence (of wrongdoing).

    "This defeats the purpose of monitoring if the officer is involved with the malpractice," said Ong, who was denied entry into Sarawak during the state election campaign period.

    Doubts on effectiveness of selected NGOs

    The EC has named five NGOs as accredited poll observers for the 13th general election, but their selection has drawn strong criticism from civil society groups.

    The five are think-tanks Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (Ideas) and Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute (Asli), graft watchdog Transparency International-Malaysia, human rights body Association for Promotion of Human Rights (Proham) and independent pollster Merdeka Centre.

    Long-time election observer Malaysians for Free and Fair Elections (Mafrel) has complained of the lack of expertise among the selected NGOs in poll monitoring.

    It accused the EC of using the NGOs to create an illusion of electoral transparency.

    Ong agreed that the accredited observers may lack experience. "I don't know if they can be effective observers, or even if they want to be," he said.

    He added that Meo-net, a network of six election observation and voter education groups, intends to apply to the EC for accreditation in order to gain access to the polling stations during the election.

    "However, we will not accept the accreditation if the conditions imposed are the same as they are now," he said.

    The National Institute for Democracy and Electoral Integrity (NIEI), which has done extensive international election monitoring work, turned down an invitation from the EC to be an accredited election observer due to the lack of a proper legislative framework for it to do a proper job.
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    EC gets thumbs up for allowing observers for GE

    Patrick Lee
    | June 29, 2012
    The Election Commission must also ensure that election observer groups are not restricted during the coming elections.



    http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/cat...ervers-for-ge/

    PETALING JAYA: An election watchdog has praised the Election Commission’s (EC) decision to give NGOs a chance to act as observers in the 13th general election.

    A Jom Pantau statement then asked the EC to give these NGOs full monitoring powers without government restrictions.

    “These NGOs should be given full access and freedom to perform their observation duties without any restrictions.

    “They must be able to communicate with the public and mass media without any censorship…from any government body or agency,” it said.

    (Jom Pantau currently runs a social programme at http://pru.info, which encourages locals to report election offences online.)

    The five appointed NGOs are the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS), Merdeka Centre, Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute (Asli), Transparency International Malaysia (TI-M) and the Association for the Promotion of Human Rights (Proham).

    Organised by local social group Pusat KOMAS, Jom Pantau also commended the EC for trying to get international observers to monitor Malaysia’s elections.

    Earlier this week, the New Straits Times reported EC chairman Abdul Aziz Yusof saying that his people were working with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to invite foreigners to observe the elections.

    Thus far, all Southeast Asian (Asean) nations except for Brunei have been invited to participate. Singapore has turned down the offer.

    Abdul Aziz added that the EC was considering inviting other groups such as the United Nations to join in the effort.

    Malaysia has long suffered a negative public perception over its electoral system. Some pundits have attacked the EC and the voting process as tainted, claiming that it greatly favours the Barisan Nasional ruling government.

    Previously, the authorities have also been known for being less-than-friendly to self-appointed election observers.

    In one example, EC barred Mafrel (Malaysians for Free and Fair Elections) from observing the 2011 Sarawak state elections.
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    Unfair to slam us on polls observer plan, says EC chief

    http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/202528


    • Nigel Aw


    • 8:12AM Jul 3, 2012


    The Election Commission (EC) has been unfairly criticised for its move to appoint five election observers for the 13th general election, says its chief Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof.

    "The observers that we are considering to appoint are working with us to form a guideline. It is not finalised yet.

    "It is not fair for us to be criticised now as those (potential) observers are yet to be accredited," Aziz (left) said in a text message to Malaysiakini yesterday.

    The EC has been facing severe criticism since it named five NGOs it intends to accredit as election observers for the next general election.

    They are think-tanks Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (Ideas) and Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute (Asli), graft watchdog Transparency International-Malaysia, human rights body Promotion of Human Rights (Proham) and independent pollster Merdeka Centre.

    None of the NGOs selected have much experience in electoral monitoring, while groups that specialise in the task were ignored.

    An illusion of transparency

    Polls watchdog Malaysians for Free and Fair Elections (Mafrel) chairperson Syed Ibrahim Syed Noh, in expressing his disappointment, lamented that these NGOs were chosen over observers with long-time groundwork experience.

    Syed Ibrahim (right) also accused the EC of attempting to create a false perception that the commission was being transparent.

    Aziz in an interview with New Straits Times recently said Mafrel was not selected because it "is biased and pro-opposition".

    Electoral reform movement Bersih has also slammed the EC's electoral observers plan as a mere public relations exercise.

    Aside from the credentials of the five NGOs the EC selected, Bersih also complained that there were too many rules constraining the observers from functioning effectively.

    According to Bersih, among the constraints are that the election observers appointed cannot engage with the media, their findings must go through the EC before being published and they cannot able take photographs of fraud without the presiding officer's permission.
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