The Election Commission (EC) announced last Saturday that it has invited and will invite international election observers as well as appoint local NGO representatives as observers in the coming general election.
However, the commission’s track record in relation to this warrants several improvements, according to election observers Malaysiakini spoke to.
Malaysian Election Observers Network (Meonet) coordinator BK Ong said the EC, unlike in the last general election, should not impose limitations on election observers.
“In the last election, observers were limited by the EC not according to their eligibility but according to the likes and dislikes of the EC.
“Election observers in 2013 were not allowed to go too far out from Kuala Lumpur, were given limited space to move around and were not allowed to go to East Malaysia,” Ong said.
The observers were given only a limited amount of time to observe the whole election process, he recounted.
“They were doing the shortest possible observation, which was only in the campaigning and polling processes, which were less than a couple of weeks.
“This is totally inadequate because the election cycle is very long. Observers need to take into account the redelineation process, training of EC personnel and the election complaints mechanism. All these cannot be covered in a short period of time,” Ong said.
Citing Sri Lanka as an example, Ong said observers there can “come in as long as they like” to scrutinise the election - to give confidence to the process.
“Malaysia is not looking at giving confidence to the process, they just want to have a window dressing,” he added...