The Joint Action Group for Gender Equality (JAG) is appalled that SUHAKAM’s application to monitor Malaysia’s 14th General Elections has been denied by the Election Commission (EC). We strongly believe that this move, which obstructs an effort to ensure good governance practices, is done in bad faith and against the best interest of the election process itself.
Yesterday, SUHAKAM was informed by the EC that their bid to observe the election process was rejected. This means that they will not be allowed to deploy their observers in the polling stations.
No reason has been offered by the EC for why the application failed. SUHAKAM had earlier mentioned that they would have 50 observers on the ground to monitor “hot” parliamentary seats. They would be monitoring the election process for electoral misconduct which includes vote inducement, intimidation of voters, problems with postal votes and advance votes, the electoral roll, as well as exploitation of racial and religious issues.
SUHAKAM’s observers, made up of its commissioners, officers and volunteers, would be sent to seats in Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Kelantan, Kedah, Perak, Perlis, Pahang, Negeri Sembilan, Sarawak and Sabah.
JAG echoes that SUHAKAM is indeed a vehicle of integrity and draws its strength from its legislated mandate to protect and promote human rights in Malaysia. A clean and fair elections is a fundamental constitutional right of every Malaysian and should be the utmost priority to the EC. Therefore, the EC should support and facilitate all efforts to ensure that the credibility and transparency of the process is held at the highest standard possible.
The EC had invited representatives from at least seven countries – Indonesia, Thailand, Maldives, Timor Leste, Cambodia, Kyrgyzstan and Azerbaijan – to observe the upcoming elections. We are disturbed, however, that the terms of reference for these international observers have not been made known. We also do not know the identities of these representatives, and where they will be deployed.
While we commend that the Malaysian Commonwealth Studies Centre (MSCS) has been invited to observe the elections, we believe that the presence of SUHAKAM will further strengthen the people’s trust in the electoral process.
Malaysia is entering what many consider to be a turning point in our country’s history. Now, more than ever, Malaysia has a responsibility to demonstrate to the world that it is able to maturely conduct a credible election process which celebrates fundamental human rights in a democratic way.
We strongly urge the EC to reconsider positively SUHAKAM’s application to observe the upcoming elections and accord them with the support they need to ensure clean and fair elections, for Malaysia.
This statement is endorsed by the following members of the Joint Action Group for Gender Equality (JAG):
1. Sisters in Islam (SIS)
2. Justice for Sisters
3. Association of Women Lawyers (AWL)
4. Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (EMPOWER)
5. All Women’s Action Society (AWAM)
6. Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO)
7. Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor
8. Women’s Centre for Change (WCC)