The Election Commission (EC) has agreed to allow Bersih to send 38 observers for the Sungai Kandis by-election.
Bersih announced this in a press conference after meeting with the EC at its headquarters in Putrajaya this afternoon.
"It was the first time since 2010 we were able to sit down and openly discuss the whole process of observation by NGOs (with the EC).
"We were asking for 109 observers to be allowed but they said due to constraints on their part - there might be other NGOs which send observers and the classroom for voting might be too small to accommodate too many observers - the EC suggested that it would allow two observers at each polling station," the group’s executive director Yap Swee Seng said, adding that this arrangement was open to change based on the number of voters at each polling station.
This amounts to 38 election observers in total, as the EC previously announced that there will be 19 polling stations for the Aug 4 by-election.
Bersih's request of 109 observers means they intended to place one observer at each of the 109 voting streams.
The deadline to apply to be an election observer is next Monday (July 16).
No comments until after polls
Yesterday, Bersih had requested a meeting with the EC to allow more election observers and for information on the terms of reference for the observation process.
Bersih acting chairperson Shahrul Aman Mohd Saari said the EC had duly informed them about its terms of reference for observers at today’s meeting.
“Observers will not be allowed to release any statements about anything on what happens in the nomination room and the polling room, from nomination day to polling day.
“However, they will be allowed to interview election officers, only not inside the polling room.
“There is some flexibility and we see some improvement,” Shahrul said.
Nomination day has been set for Jul 21, following which there will be a 14-day campaign period.
Shahrul reserved comment on the terms of reference pending a discussion with Bersih’s steering committee members.
The Selangor state seat of Sungai Kandis fell vacant following the death of PKR incumbent Mat Shuhaimi Shafiei on July 2.
This will be the first by-election following the May 9 general election, which the late Shuhaimi won with a 12,480-vote majority in a four-cornered fight with BN (Umno), PAS and Parti Rakyat Malaysia (PRM).
Thus far, no parties have announced their candidates for the by-election.