The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0) has questioned the need for the Election Commission (EC) to appoint a politician as observer in the Sandakan parliamentary by-election. (NSTP Archive)

SANDAKAN: The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0) has questioned the need for the Election Commission (EC) to appoint a politician as observer in the Sandakan parliamentary by-election.

This follows the presence of former Parti Harapan Rakyat Sabah president Datuk Lajim Ukin, who has joined Sabah Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu), during the nomination day at SMJK Tiong Hua, yesterday.

Lajim was seen wearing an official T-shirt with ‘Pemerhati Pilihan Raya’ (Election Observer) written on it.

Sabah Bersih 2.0 coordinator Asraf Sharafi, in a statement, said the coalition viewed that election observers should be organisations or individuals who do not side with any political party, especially the ones that are contesting in the by-election.

He said it was in line with the established standards of the Global Principles Declaration for observers and monitoring of non-partisan elections by civil organisations (Venice Commission).

“The importance of non-partisan observers in the election is they need to evaluate the overall integrity of the electoral process and their reports can increase or spoil the legitimacy of the election results.

“If there is a politician being appointed as observer, the EC needs to clarify the appointment or if there was a failure in their standard operating procedures (SOP) to screen the applications for observer,” he added.

Asraf said the EC also needed to explain its policy in determining whether an active politician can become an observer for the commission as well as the SOP to cancel applications to become an observer.

“Bersih 2.0 commends the commission’s openness since the 14th general election in appointing local groups and non-governmental organisations, including Bersih 2.0, as observers.

“However, we hope the EC will not spoil the programme’s integrity and devalue the commission’s freedom by appointing active politicians as election observers,” he said.