Press Statement, 23 April 2013
Nomination Process Smooth but Marred with Incidences of Misconduct
PEMANTAU is disturbed by reports from our election observers that members of PAS’s Unit Amal had attempted to bar a candidate for the State seat of Sungai Acheh in Penang, Badrul Hisham Shaharin, from handing in his nomination papers. They reportedly formed a human barrier to block his path to the nomination and, when this tactic did not work, resorted to physically assaulting him. We consider this to be a serious breach of Badrul Hisham Shaharin’s right to participate freely in the government of his country, and his right to security of person.
This incident is among the most serious of the reports of electoral misconduct during nomination day. PEMANTAU has so far received written reports from observers in at least 20 Parliamentary seats in Johor, Kedah, Kuala Lumpur, Negeri Sembilan, Pahang, Penang, Selangor, and Terengganu. We have also received verbal reports and pictures from our observers in other states and are expecting more to come.
We are still tabulating the data received, but a preliminary picture is emerging of habitual and widespread electoral misconduct despite a largely peaceful nomination day. PEMANTAU observers reported incidents of treating by both Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat in almost all Parliamentary seats, and bribery by Barisan Nasional. These incidents usually involve the distribution of “goodies” such as food and items with party logos, but in the Nibong Tebal constituency election observers reported that money was being offered in a tent allegedly belonging to Barisan Nasional.
There were also reports of ceramahs taking place on nomination day and campaign paraphernalia brought within 50 metres of nomination centres. In Alor Setar, observers noted the use of a vehicle belonging to a public university for political party purposes. Nomination procedures were executed consistently in most cases, except in Kuantan where the representative of the Pakatan Rakyat candidate was not allowed to hand in nomination papers without the candidate present, even though the representative of the Barisan Nasional candidate was allowed to do so.
We are concerned that PEMANTAU observers reported harassment and even physical assault from individuals identified as Barisan Nasional supporters. In Terengganu, a PEMANTAU observer received a pamphlet accusing PEMANTAU of being “pengacau.” In Kapar, PEMANTAU observers had to be escorted by the police away from Barisan Nasional supporters, who threatened them by saying that their safety could not be guaranteed. One PEMANTAU was assaulted with a water bottle thrown by one of the BN supporters. In Lembah Pantai, they were accused of forging PEMERHATI tags. A number of PEMANTAU observers reported receiving demands to take off BERSIH 2.0 t-shirts.
We stress that PEMERHATI and PEMANTAU are different entities, with different roles to play. PEMANTAU is cognisant of its complementary role as non-accredited observers and does not seek to supplant PEMERHATI. Furthermore, PEMANTAU is bound by a code of conduct common to domestic election observers around the world, which includes a pledge of neutrality and non-partisanship. We report on what we observe, without fear or favour, whatever our personal political beliefs.
Finally, we note that in the SUHAKAM report of its inquiry into alleged violations of human rights during and after Bersih 3, the SUHAKAM panel questioned the use and suitability of dannert wires “especially on an occasion and at places where large crowds were expected to congregate.” Unfortunately, the use of barbed wires were observed in at least two places on nomination day: Kuala Selangor and Gelang Patah. In peacetime, this is excessive.
PEMANTAU is observing the entire campaign period. We remind all political parties to respect electoral laws, including the Election Offences Act 1954, and Malaysia’s international commitments. We also call on them to ensure the safety of PEMANTAU’s election observers and their ability to carry out their duties. Election observation falls under right to participate freely in the government of one’s country and the right to freedom of association. Respecting these rights is the least of what Malaysians should expect from their would-be leaders.
We wish to express our thanks to officers from the Election Commission and the Police, as well as political party workers and supporters, who gave cooperation to PEMANTAU during nomination day.
PEMANTAU Pilihan Raya Rakyat (PEMANTAU) comprises of:
Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections 2.0 (BERSIH 2.0)
Malaysians for Free and Fair Elections (MAFREL)
For further enquiries, please contact the BERSIH 2.0 secretariat at
03-77723275 or 019-4380428