EU mulls observer group as EC ‘not credible’, say diplomats


By Jahabar Sadiq
Editor
The Malaysian Insider
Jul 24, 2011

KUALA LUMPUR, July 24 — Despite Putrajaya’s strident defence of the Election Commission (EC), European Union (EU) diplomats are looking into proposals to send observer groups for the next general election as they found the commission “not credible” after a recent briefing here.

Several diplomats told The Malaysian Insider that EC chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof’s briefing weeks before the Bersih rally on July 9 did not convince them of the commission’s neutrality as he kept referring to being part of the government.

“They are not credible. Abdul Aziz kept repeating ‘us’ and ‘we in the government’ during the briefing,” a European diplomat told The Malaysian Insider.

Abdul Aziz was the secretary-general of the Home Ministry before his appointment as the EC chairman on December 31, 2008, after his extension contract ended.

A diplomat from another European nation confirmed the briefing and their conclusions.

“It is sensitive but we are thinking of recommending observer groups to watch the next general election,” he said, recalling that the Commonwealth Observer Mission had observed the 1990 general elections.

The ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) government has kept out international election watch groups since then and had refused to make public the report from the Commonwealth Observer Mission. Several local election watch groups have sprouted but receive minimal cooperation from the EC.

An EU diplomat said they had also met with Bersih 2.0 leaders to get a briefing on their eight-point demands calling for free and fair elections that culminated with a rally on July 9 that was dispersed by riot police despite locking down the capital city.

“We had a briefing from Bersih 2.0 chair Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan about their cause,” he said, declining to give specific details of the meeting.

Bersih 2.0 estimated up to 50,000 people turned up at the rally after the Najib administration reneged on a promise for a stadium but city police say only 6,000 people made it through the barricades. Nearly 1,700 were arrested while scores were injured and one man died of a heart attack in the rally.

The government had also outlawed Bersih 2.0, a coalition of 62 organisations, saying that it had not registered the movement. The movement’s illegal status was also cited as a reason for not getting a stadium booking or a police permit for a gathering.

Despite that, Bersih 2.0 has called its supporters and the public to wear something yellow every Saturday until the government looks into and implements its eight demands. The EC had said it was willing to discuss the points if Bersih dropped its plans for a rally.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak announced yesterday Putrajaya will provide allocations for a biometric voter verification system requested by the EC to stamp out phantom voters, in what is seen as a concession to one key demand from Bersih 2.0

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz also said this week that government would not object to non-governmental organisations (NGO) joining the EC if the commission wanted their participation to assure the public about their impartiality.

“We are open to any suggestions . . . I mean it is for the commission, the SPR’s decision. As you know, SPR is an independent body. If it’s okay with them, then they can negotiate with the government, as long as they promise there will not be anymore street demonstrations,” he said, calling the EC by its Bahasa Malaysia acronym.

The EC has a chairman, a deputy chairman and five members, all retired civil servants, and are appointed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong after consulting the Conference of Rulers.

The appointments to the commission are made with the advice of the prime minister.

  1. #1 by k1980 on Sunday, 24 July 2011 - 9:42 am

    Najib and the Queen Caption contest

    Win a dinner for 4 hosted by Patrick Teoh at Damansara Village Steamboat [email protected] Kayu Ara.

    http://www.niamah.com/2011/07/najib-and-queen-of-england.html

  2. #2 by yhsiew on Sunday, 24 July 2011 - 9:55 am

    ///“They are not credible. Abdul Aziz kept repeating ‘us’ and ‘we in the government’ during the briefing,” a European diplomat told The Malaysian Insider.///

    It is a nightmare to have someone, who has no concept of a free-and-fair election, operation independence, political neutrality and political non-affiliation pertaining to election matters, to be in charge of the EC. Pakatan must insist that foreign observers are brought in to observe the 13th GE.

  3. #3 by Cinapek on Sunday, 24 July 2011 - 11:07 am

    “They are not credible. Abdul Aziz kept repeating ‘us’ and ‘we in the government’ during the briefing,” a European diplomat told The Malaysian Insider…..”

    After a lifetime of being in the employ of the BN Govt. it is difficult to shake off that mentality of returning the favour to the BN Govt. The other problem is the deeply ingrained instinct of protecting the BN Govt. Last but no least, the EC Chairman’s posting, like the IGP, CJ, AG and a host of other institution heads are “recommended by the PM” to the Agong. In short, they “owe” the PM. Not only that, the political masters can decide whether or not to renew their contract. So is it any wonder that these appointees are well aware which side of their bread is buttered to enjoy their gaji buta?

    If the BN wants a credible person to sell their spin they should find a better salesman. This guy has been less than convincing at press conferences. And BN, if you are thinking of his deputy, you will do worse because that guy will make you look even worse with his more extreme views.

  4. #4 by dcasey on Sunday, 24 July 2011 - 11:20 am

    Reading the above, one cannot blame the statement of the European diplomat who said “They are not credible. Abdul Aziz kept repeating ‘us’ and ‘we in the government’ during the briefing,”

    And if you were to look closely at what Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz said, it further strengthens the diplomats’ concerns:-

    * “We are open to any suggestions”
    * “As you know, SPR is an independent body”
    * “If it’s okay with them, then they can negotiate with the government”

    And if you look at the composition of the members of the EC (from its chairman, deputy chairman and five members), they are all retired civil servants (thus with handsome pensions and gratuities) but most of all BTN veterans.

    So is there any part which can irrefutably point to the direction that the EC (or SPR in its Bahasa Malaysia acronym) is not part of the govt (i.e. BN or aka UMNO) and therefore truly independent?

    If Najib briefed UK’s PM, David Cameron, then why is the EU so worried? Credibility of our beloved PM perhaps?

  5. #5 by Joshua on Monday, 25 July 2011 - 6:43 am

    While we appreciate the help of outsiders, we must on our own do our full homework on GE generally.

    Where did the discrepancies of ballot paper issued come from?

    There are many questions to be answered and the foreigners cannot do that for us..

    EU also in a mess in many ways..

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