KOTA KINABALU: The Election Commission (EC) was taken to task for allowing an active politician to take on the role of an observer in the Sandakan by-election.
Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong questioned why Datuk Seri Lajim Ukin was appointed to the role.
The MCA president pointed out that Lajim was the former president of Parti Harapan Rakyat Sabah and is now part of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia.
“Bersatu is one of the component parties that forms Pakatan Harapan, and in Pakatan Harapan there is also DAP, and DAP is contesting in the Sandakan by-election.
“Oh! Is this the transparent elections in the new Malaysia? Might as well appoint Tun Mahathir or Lim Guan Eng to be an observer,” he said in a Facebook post yesterday.
The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0) first highlighted this and questioned if the EC should appoint politicians as their election observers.
“Does the EC have a policy as to whether politically-active politicians can be election observers and if there is, a clear Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) to vet applicants to be a Pemerhati?” they asked.
EC chairman Azhar Azizan Harun said the commission would be reviewing its criteria in appointing election observers.
He added in a statement yesterday that there are several guidelines and criteria to follow in appointing an observer, including having a neutral stand and ensuring he is from a credible government agency.
“The person should be from a non-governmental organisation, be a Malaysian citizen with the requisite skills and is able to contribute towards the betterment of the election process as well as abide by the election observers’ ethics code and Akujanji among others,” he said.
He said Lajim was appointed based on his criteria representing a government agency, which is the Electoral Reform Committee and not as a member of any political party.
“The EC has also provided an Akujanji form to be signed and acknowledged by the appointed observers that has to be abided by until the election is over,” Azizan said.
However, EC took note of the concerns raised by critics and would take necessary actions including reviewing its criteria in appointing observers and other agents.
“We will get feedback from all relevant bodies and agencies,” he said.
DAP’s Vivian Wong will face off with PBS’ Datuk Linda Tsen and three independent candidates in the by-election.