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EC says will not force TI-M to observe GE13

EC says will not force TI-M to observe GE13
Election Integrity Pledge

EC says will not force TI-M to observe GE13

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 13 — The Election Commission (EC) has accepted Transparency International Malaysia’s (TI-M) decision to reject its offer to be a polls observer, saying it will not force the group to take on the role.

EC deputy chief Datuk Wan Ahmad Wan Omar (picture) pointed out today that there were many other non-governmental organisations interested in the job, but added that the commission would first vet them to ensure they were qualified.

“It is their right, their decision,” he told The Malaysian Insider, referring to TI-M. “No problem. We offered to many NGOs, if they reject the offer, it is their right.”

“But to me, it is their loss,” he added.

Last week, TI-M announced that it had turned down the EC’s invitation, citing several “reservations” it has against some of the terms of reference set by the regulator on domestic election observers.

But the global anti-corruption watchdog did not reveal these reservations when announcing its decision in a statement here, saying it had agreed to keep its reasons under wraps to encourage further discourse with the EC.

TI-M secretary-general Josie M. Fernandez said the anti-graft body has in the past worked with the EC in the proposal of reforms to current electoral processes, including political financing, and the agency had demonstrated its willingness to discuss the topic.

Fernandez said TI-M was still willing to continue engaging with the EC on electoral reform, urging the authority to ensure that the process of election observers adheres to international standards and norms.

After TI-M’s announcement, electoral reforms group Bersih 2.0 expressed its disappointment and urged the EC to reconsider the conditions that had irked the anti-corruption group.

“As far as TI-M pulling out, it’s disappointing because the advantage that accredited bodies have is that they are allowed access to polling stations,” Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan, Bersih 2.0’s co-chairman, said at a press conference here.

She pointed out that EC-accredited bodies would have an advantage over citizen observers as the latter are not allowed to monitor the elections inside polling centres.

Last November, the EC was reported to have announced its selection of 18 local NGOs as domestic election observers, apart from inviting a separate group from ASEAN countries to monitor the 13th general election.