Yang Bhg. Tan Sri Razali Ismail,
National Human Rights Commission of Malaysia
We the undersigned, representing our respective organisations, namely G25 Malaysia, HAKAM, BERSIH 2.0, IKRAM, ABIM, and the Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4), wish to highly commend SUHAKAM on its decision to observe and monitor the election process of GE 14, as announced in its Press Statement dated 11 April 2018.
We support SUHAKAM’s overarching aim to help promote and protect human rights, and in turn transparent and democratic elections with integrity because of public concern over the integrity of the present electoral process.
We are heartened by SUHAKAM’s resolve to vigilantly observe actions that can amount to fraudulent and abusive practices that undermine the right to political participation as guaranteed under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, including the right to vote, freedom of speech and expression, freedom of assembly and association, as well as the right to liberty and security of person and that it would not hesitate, in pursuance of its mandate, to investigate and follow up on complaints and bring these to the consideration of the authorities, including the Attorney General’s Chambers.
Such fraudulent and abusive practices that undermine the free will and free expression of voters on choosing a new government, should include:
Enticing voters to vote for a party through abuse of government machinery and funds, new allocation of funds, new development project schemes, new appointments to positions, new signing of contracts et cetera, after dissolution of parliament and state assemblies as stipulated in the Guidelines on Caretaker Government by Bersih 2.0 based on international conventions. If these activities are pre-planned or part of the regular measures, they should be carried out by civil servants representing the caretaker government instead of politicians. In this regard, we refer to the media statement dated 16 April issued by Bersih 2.0;
Enticing voters to vote for a party through giving out gifts of cash and in kind and other promised favours, doubled BRIM payments, discounted groceries, promises to give free gym membership, free I-Pads, bonuses, and the list goes on.In this regard, we refer to the media statement dated 16 April issued by the Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4) which disclosed that these acts of corrupt practices continue unabated despite the fact that they are criminalised under the Election Offences Act, 1954;
Intimidating and threatening voters through various means, including the abuse of law and enforcement agencies, threats of penalty and punishment and threats of violence and human rights violations.
In addition to the above, we would respectfully request SUHAKAM to focus on the following key areas in the monitoring and observation of the election process of the 14th General Election:
Overseas postal voters have been given a very short time to return their ballot papers as the campaign period for GE14 is only 11 days. There is also concern expressed on the safe custody of these ballot papers and access by the polling agent of political parties to ensure they are not tampered with once they are sent back to the Returning Officer in each constituency.
The number of ballot papers issued for postal voters (domestic and overseas) in each constituency should be monitored and ensured that the figures are made public.
Polling and counting agents of contesting political parties and international and domestic election observers should be allowed to monitor advance voting on 5 May in all army camps and police barracks. There have been concerns expressed on the safe custody of the ballot boxes in all advance voting as they will be kept at places as instructed by the Election Commission for five days before counting of the votes after 5.00pm on 9 May. Previously, the candidates and polling agents of political parties were not allowed to observe and monitor the safekeeping of these ballot boxes.
Problems with electoral roll
There have been various concerns expressed on the electoral roll such as missing names, shifting of voters’ constituency without their consent where voters are being arbitrarily deprived of their right to vote and the right to political participation, dubious registration of voters without addresses, huge numbers of voters registered in a particular address etc.
The exploitation of racial and religious issues in campaigning
The exploitation of racial and religious issues in campaigning to incite hatred, violence and gain votes by any political party or candidates should be monitored closely and condemned immediately when they take place.
The abuse of the Communication and Multimedia Act, Anti-Fake News Act, Sedition Act and other laws to stifle freedom of expression
The abuse of legislation such as the Communication and Multimedia Act, Anti-Fake News Act, Sedition Act may be increased during this period of election which will have a chilling effect on freedom of expression that is crucial for the discussion of issues affecting the nation during the election.
The safe conduct of election during campaign period and polling day
The safe conduct of the election during the campaign period and the polling day is paramount to provide a favourable environment for voters to exercise their right to vote and to ensure a high turnout of voters to truly reflect the decision of the voters in the election results.
We request for SUAHAKAM to launch a public inquiry into the integrity and conduct of the 14th General Elections immediately after the general elections. We believe that a public inquiry is necessary to determine whether or not there were serious flaws in the electoral system and the conduct of elections which violated the constitutional rights of citizens to vote and choose their government. This is because various problems and issues have been reported to and documented by organisations such as BERSIH2.0, and the Election Commission has not been forthcoming and transparent in providing clarifications on those issues.
We look forward to a productive discussion of these issues with representatives of SUHAKAM on Friday 20th April.
Tan Sri Mohd Sheriff Mohd Kassim
Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasen
President of National Human Rights Society (HAKAM)
Acting Chairperson of BERSIH 2.0
Haji Zaid Kamaruddin
Deputy President of Pertubuhan IKRAM
Zairudin Hashim, Assistant Secretary General, ABIM
Cynthia Gabriel, Executive Director, Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism