Published: Monday January 7, 2013 MYT 4:18:00 PM
Updated: Monday January 7, 2013 MYT 5:39:20 PM
TI-M declines observer status for upcoming general election
By RAZAK AHMAD
PETALING JAYA: Transparency International Malaysia (TI-M) has declined the Election Commission's (EC) offer to take part as one of the five local observers at the 13th general election due to its reservations over some of the terms set by the polls management body.
The pullout has, however, not gone down well with one of the remaining four bodies which hit out at TI-M for failing to register its “strong reservations” with the EC before declining the offer.
In a statement TI-M said that, apart from the terms of reference, it had rejected the offer because it believed that additional civil society groups such as MAFREL (Malaysian for Free and Fair Elections) should be roped in as observers.
“However, TI-M would be willing to continue to engage with the EC to continue to reform various laws related to elections,” the group said in its statement.
It did not specify what the objectionable terms were, saying that it had agreed to confidentiality to promote free and frank discussions.
Apart from TI-M, other groups invited by EC as local observers are polling research outfit Merdeka Centre, and the Centre for Public Policy Studies which is under the Asian Strategy and Leadership Institutte (Asli).
Also invited are the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS); and the Malaysian Youth Council.
The rejection prompted a strongly-worded statement by IDEAS chief executive Wan Saiful Wan Jan, who questioned the TI-M pullout after all the groups in their last meeting with the EC had agreed on a compromise on the terms and conditions.
Wan Saiful said that all the invited groups - and not just TI-M alone - had negotiated for months with the EC to ensure that all the observer rules complied with international standards.
Wan Saiful expressed concern that with the withdrawal, “TI-M is inadvertently and unintentionally helping those who are bent on painting the wrong picture on the election observation mission and the organisations involved in it.”
Election Comission deputy chairman Datuk Wan Ahmad Wan Omar said the pullout would not affect plans to have local observers because all the other groups had accepted, in writing, the offer by the EC.
Wan Ahmad said the EC had organised three meetings to discuss the terms of reference with the groups.
“We impressed upon them that the terms are in line with international standards, the country's laws and keeping within the need to ensure a smooth election process,” said Wan Ahmad, adding that there was no need to identify another group to fill TI-M's slot.