Election watchdog group hopes to mobilise at least 10,000 volunteers as observers across the country during the upcoming polls.
KUALA LUMPUR: Election watchdog group Bersih 2.0 today called upon concerned citizens to volunteer as observers during the upcoming general election – described as the most critical in the nation’s 55-year history.
Bersih 2.0 co-chairman S Ambiga said her committee, along with Malaysians for Free and Fair Elections (Mafrel) and human rights group Pusat Komas, are aiming to mobilise at least 10,000 volunteers as observers to as many parliamentary constituencies as possible around the country, with priority given to what she termed as “hot seats”.
“The citizens monitoring campaign will be one of the most important campaigns for Bersih as all our appeals to the EC [Election Commission] have fallen on deaf ears. Even if there are changes, they are minimal and not sincere,” Ambiga told a press conference today.
“With the help of citizen observers, we are able to minimise fraud and deter political violence. This [movement] has been found to be very effective in many countries,” she added.
Mafrel chairman Syed Ibrahim Syed Noh explained the volunteers are merely observers and will not be interfering with the election process.
“They will be outside the polling stations and will not be allowed in. They cannot request or demand interference but will be accepting complaints,” he said.
“After that, the observers will put in their observations into reports, which will then be published and made public,” he added. He assured volunteers will be trained to follow a professional code of conduct.
Syed Ibrahim said the group will organise roadshows across the country in the upcoming weeks before the general election (GE13), which he predicted to be held end of March.
“We will have briefings and present guidelines to the public. That’s when the recruitment will start. We will go to all cities across Malaysia,” he said.
“We believe we can get 10,000 volunteers because we are leveraging Bersih’s brand name. We also forsee we will have enough time to train them before GE13,” he said.
Ambiga stressed volunteers must be non-partisan and cannot be a member of any political party. However, she could not guarantee how Bersih was going to monitor the volunteers, and only said: “They have to sign a pledge when they register” and “I trust Malaysian citizens to be honest people”.
“The campaign needs volunteers that are sincere and brave, and who are willing to contribute their time to campaign before and on the day itself,” she said.
“Our role is to be transparent observers to make sure GE13 is free from any fraud.”