Thursday, May 6, 2010

Mafrel: Foreign funds Yes, foreign agent No

By Rahmah Ghazali

FULL REPORT KUALA LUMPUR: Elections watchdog Mafrel has admitted receiving foreign funds from the United States and Finland but rejected an accusation of being a "foreign agent".

Its president Syed Ibrahim Syed Noh said: “An NGO monitoring body like us needs financial aid, be it from local or foreign sources. This is the normal practice for political parties as well.”

But he rejected an accusation by a Barisan Nasional senator that the election watchdog is a “foreign agent”.

He claimed that the foreign funds were for Mafrel to carry out its work during the 2008 general election, but the agreement did not include by-elections.

The money, he explained, was used to train volunteers for the monitoring process. In return, Mafrel submitted election reports to the funders.

Syed Ibrahim revealed that the money, amounting to US$50,000 (RM170,000), came from the Finnish embassy and the US' International Republican Institute (IRI).

"There is nothing strange about this,” he said, stressing that Mafrel (Malaysians for Free and Fair Elections) has always been unbiased and transparent in its election reports.

He said foreign funding was their final option, as they were still awaiting approval for government funds.

"We had to go through a lengthy procedure and it took a long time for our application to be processed. So finally, we had to rely on other funding,” he said.

Cedibility questioned

In the Dewan Negera last Tuesday, Senator Idris Buang also questioned Mafrel's impartiality, claiming that it was founded by a former PKR Youth leader.

Commenting on this, Syed Ibrahim said: "It is normal for politicians to found companies or NGOs. Besides, we never closed our doors to any Umno, PAS or PKR members who want to become volunteers.”

Earlier, the Mafrel boss also touched on the Election Commission's decision to drop the watchdog as an independent observer due to Mafrel's delay in submitting its reports.

Syed Ibrahim blamed this on the "out of the ordinary" string of by-elections since the 2008 general election.

He said Mafrel will submit its reports on the by-elections to the media today, while its report on the Hulu Selangor by-election has also been completed.

"It is time-consuming because we need to cross-examine the facts so that we can set a high standard for our reports. We also want to ensure that the reports contain truthful and credible information,” he added.

He said Mafrel sent an official letter, dated April 12, to the EC appealing against its decision to drop the watchdog.

"But we have yet to receive an answer,” he said, adding that Mafrel will continue to play an active role, especially in the upcoming Sibu by-election in Sarawak.

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Rain or shine, Mafrel will be in Sibu

Thursday, 06 May 2010 17:09

KUALA LUMPUR – The Malaysians for Free and Fair Elections (Mafrel) will go ahead and observe the coming Sibu by-election process despite the Election Commission’s decision to drop it as an independent observer for elections.

Its chairman, Syed Ibrahim Syed Noh, said Mafrel would carry out observation from the nomination day on May 8 until polling day on May 16.

'Don't tell us what to do'

“The question of whether there is a need for observers or not does not arise. It will not affect Mafrel’s wish to monitor Sibu by-election. Mafrel is an independent organisation registered under the Companies Commission,” he told reporters here today.

“We will continue to carry out our operations without fear or favour. Mafrel does not need permission or sanction of any parties including EC to monitor the process.

“In fact, EC should be encouraging us to work towards the advocacy of democracy and a free and fair election process,” he said.

The EC’s deputy chairman Wan Ahman Wan Omar who said that there was no need for Mafrel or similar NGOs to be independent observers for the Sibu by-election.

He said Mafrel deputy chairman Col (R) Shahruddin Othman and another representative would be in Sibu from May 14 until May 17 to observe the campaigning, polling and post election processes.

“They will assisted by at least 20 local volunteers for the observation and monitoring process during the Sibu by-election,” he said.

Mafrel would focus on bribes offered to voters, abuse of government machinery and public resources and also possiblities of violence and threats during campaigning.

On EC withdrawing Mafrel as an independent election watchdog following its failure to submit reports of nine previous by-elections, Syed Ibrahim said Mafrel had written a letter to EC chairman on April 12 seeking a meeting and to discuss the reports but had yet to get a response from EC.

Reports of nine by-elections ready

He said Mafrel had already completed reports of the nine by-elections held after the 12th general election and a preliminary report of the Hulu Selangor by-election.

He said the delay in preparing reports was due to data scrutiny, fact verification and high standard set by Mafrel as well as the frequent by-elections in the past two years.

He said the problem could be resolved between Mafrel and EC fairly without intervention by political parties or individuals with vested interest.

On Senator Idris Buang from Sarawak who questioned the credibility of Mafrel and Mafrel’s sources of funding, Syed Ibrahim admitted that Mafrel had received funding from Finland Embassy and International Republican Institute from the US, which went towards training of volunteers and observation processes of the 12th general election.

Open about foreign funding

“We are transparent about our sources of funding. We need funding to implement our monitoring work, but it does not mean that we are a foreign agent. We are not under the influence of anybody.

“We have to prepare reports but they are not exclusive for the parties just because they had funded us,” he said in The Star report.

On Idris’ claim that Mafrel was funded by a former PKR youth leader for Selangor and Federal Territory, Syed Ibrahim said : ”Many organisations are founded by politicians but it has to be clearly understood that the role of Mafrel is as an independent professional observer.”

Rife with offences

In its preliminary report on Hulu Selangor by-election, Mafrel highlighted that the campaign for the by-election was marred by incidents of vote buying attempts and blatant election offences committed by both candidates.

It stated that party big-wigs from both Barisan Nasional and PKR went around promising millions of ringgit in development and aid money to voters that might be construed as election offences and infringements of the provisions of the election law and result in the whole election process being declared null and void.

It said there were no serious attempts by the authorities to curtail or stop such practices.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Najib Tabur Janji Di Sibu, Mafrel Tegur Sikap SPR

SHAH ALAM, 4 MEI: Badan Pemantau Bebas Pilihan Raya (Mafrel) meminta Suruhanjaya Pilihan Raya (SPR) tidak menutup mata terhadap gelagat pimpinan kerajaan pemerintah yang menabur pelbagai janji peruntukan kepada pengundi Sibu.

Pengerusi Mafrel, Syed Ibrahim Syed Noh berkata perbuatan menabur janji itu boleh ditafsir sebagai kempen pilihan raya dan tidak wajar berikutan proses penamaan belum pun bermula.

Beliau mengingatkan SPR, mereka perlu bebas bertindak mengikut lunas undang-undang tanpa perlu mematuhi telunjuk pimpinan Umno Barisan Nasional

Sabtu lalu, Perdana Menteri Datuk Seri Najib Razak menjanjikan puluhan ribu ringgit kepada rakyat sibu atas kapasitinya sebagai perdana menteri sedangkan ia tak ubah seperti kempen pilihan raya.

Sekalipun mendakwa peruntukan berkenaan dibuat mengikut jadual tetapi anehnya, janji berkenaan hanya dibuat menjelang pilihan raya kecil yang bakal bermula 8 mei ini.

“Pilihan raya Sibu tak lama, sudah tentulah ia menjurus kearah itu. Minta SPR ambil perhatian," katanya yang menyifatkan janji peruntukan Najib sebenarnya lebih cenderung kepada umpan kepada rakyat untuk mendapatkan undi mereka semata- mata.

“Kita tidak menafikan perkara itu boleh dilihat sebagai satu bentuk gula-gula sebab ia berlaku dalam tempoh dekat dengan pilihan raya kecil," katanya lagi.

Mafrel menyatakan tidak salah untuk Najib turun padang bertemu rakyat tetapi perdana menteri ini perlu telus dalam tindakannya dan tidak memanipulasikan lawatan untuk berkempen.

“Apa-apa usaha berunsur kempen sebelum waktu kempen tidak sepatutnya berlaku.
Bukan bermakna Najib tidak boleh jumpa rakyat tetapi bergantung kepada kenyataan yang dibuat, Adakah bersifat kempen atau tidak. Ini memerlukan pemantauan dari SPR,” katanya.

Mafrel Tetap Pantau Proses Pilihanraya Kecil Di Sibu

SIBU 4 Mei - Pemantau Pilihan Raya Bersih dan Adil (Mafrel) tetap akan menghantar petugas untuk memerhati perjalanan pilihan raya kecil bagi kerusi Parlimen Sibu kata Pengerusinya Syed Ibrahim Syed Noh.

Mengulas kenyataan Timbalan Pengerusi Suruhanjaya Pilihan Raya (SPR), Datuk Wira Wan Ahmad Wan Omar yang dipetik sebagai berkata Mafrel tidak diperlukan sebagai pemerhati di pilihan raya kecil Sibu dengan alasan kononnya SPR sudah melantik enam pasukan penguatkuasaan untuk tujuan itu.

Syed Ibrahim berkata dasar sama ada badan pemantau diperlukan atau tidak bukan menjadi persoalannya kerana Mafrel adalah badan yang bebas.

"Banyak lagi keraguan yang timbul seperti daftar pemilih, kempen, ceramah dan semua ini akan di pantau bagi memastikan proses pilihanraya berjalan secara telus dan adil,

"SPR sepatutnya memberi dan meraikan ruang demokrasi yang diisi Mafrel dan kita tidak perlu kebenaran daripada SPR kerana Mafrel adalah satu badan yang bebas,

"Walaupun tidak mempunyai sumber dana yang terhad, Mafrel akan tetap menghantar petugas untuk memantau keadaan daripada hari penamaan sehinggalah hari membuang undi," tegas Syed Ibrahim kepada Suara Keadilan.

SPR telah menetapkan hari penamaan calon bagi pilihan raya kecil Sibu akan diadakan pada 8 Mei manakala hari pengundian pula pada 16 Mei .

Sumber: Suara Keadilan

Watch what they say, Mafrel tells EC

Watch what they say, Mafrel tells EC

By FMT Staff

SHAH ALAM: Polls watchdog Mafrel today urged the Election Commission not to turn a blind eye on government leaders who are are wooing the Sibu electorate with promises of allocations.

Its chairman Syed Ibrahim Syed Noh said the blatant actions of these leaders were contradictory to the rules of a by-election.

He reminded the EC that it was bound by oath to remain independent and carry out its responsibilities as per regulations.

‘There is no need for the EC to bow to the Umno-Barisan Nasional leadership. They are suppose to be independent and act in accordance to the regulations,” he said.

Syed Ibrahim's reminder came in the wake of Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak's fleeting trip to Sibu on Saturday, promising hundreds of thousand ringgit to Sibu voters in his capacity as premier.

The Sibu parliamentary constituency will see a by-election on May 16 following the death of its MP and deputy Transport Minister Robert Lau on April 9. Najib’s visit on Saturday was in conjunction with nominations which is set for Saturday, May 8.

Speculations are rife that it would be a tight straight fight between the late Lau’s Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) and DAP.

In the 2008 election five-term MP Lau won the seat with a 3,232 majority in a three-cornered fight with DAP and PKR.

Noting the tight race, Syed Ibrahim said: “Since the Sibu-by-election is not long away, the promises and pledges are centred around this.

“We are asking the EC to take note,” he said adding that Najib’s promises could be viewed as baiting votes.

“We cannot deny that the action is seen as a tempting Sibu residents since it is happening around the time of the by-election,” he said.

Mafrel said it was not wrong for Najib to go to the ground but the prime minister must be transparent in his actions and not manipulate his visit with the people as a campaign for the by-elections.

“It does not mean Najib cannot meet the people but it depends on what statements he makes. The EC must monitor this, “ he said.

SPR has no need or scared of observers?

SPR has no need or scared of observers?
May 4, 2010 by democracy4now

Wan Ahmad of SPR

SPR is at it again: they said that SPR don’t need independent observers! But could it really be: SPR is scared of observers?
All the excuses given are spurious: if MAFREL did not submit their 9 reports SPR can still give accreditation to other observers who can!
If they claim that the enforcement team can take the place of independent observers to give feedback: where has been their feedback reports for all the time since the were created by the Parliament?
In fact they are not empowered even to enforce a fraction of the Election Offences Act 1954-they can only deal with minor issues like baanners and posters.
Also the party reps are outnumbered by civil servants like SPR, police and Council members-how can their views be heard?
The unsaid reason is: SPR is embarassed by their own poor records in terms of competence and independence!
The last international election observer who came to Malaysia ie those from the Commonwealth, judged that Malaysian elections were free but not fair.
The judgement in 1980 probably still ring true today.
The SPR’s arrogance has probably been bolstered by the doubling of its by-election budget :RM1.2mil-twice the amount spent in Batang Ai or Hulu Selangor!

May 04, 2010 14:01 PM

No Need For MAFREL Or Other NGOs To Monitor Sibu By-election: EC

SIBU, May 4 (Bernama) — There is no need for MAFREL (Malaysia for Free Election) or similar non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to be independent observers for the coming Sibu by-election.

Election Commission Deputy Chairman Datuk Wira Wan Ahmad Wan Omar said today it had taken detailed steps to ensure the election, with its nomination day on May 8 and polling on May 16, would be carried out in the most fair and transparent manner.

“MAFREL was not needed in the recent Hulu Selangor by-election. We are not going to need them as observers for the Sibu by-election.

“We will have formed six enforcement teams. Representatives of all the candidates will be invited to be members,” he said.

He said their inclusion would allow them to be observers at the polling centres, the tally centre and to monitor the process of campaigning, and the teams would be just as good, he told a media conference after a briefing session with all those involved here.

He said although the EC had recognised the MAFREL roles in the past nine by-election before the Hulu Selangor, they had failed to send any feedback or reports to the EC.

“The voters or candidates need not worry. We have done 12 general elections and more than 300 by-elections in the country so far and we have been regularly fine-tuning our system.

“The inclusion of representatives of all the candidates in our enforcement team is assurance enough of fairness and transparency,” he said.

Wan Ahmad meanwhile reminded all candidates and their representatives to have good knowledge of the election rule and regulations.

He said it was compulsory for them to obtain the police permit before any gathering for the police to monitor and ensure public security.

He said a budget of RM1.2 million had been allocated for the by-election.

On the announcement of the result, he expected it to be done before or by 9pm or the latest at 10pm on May 16.


Monday, May 3, 2010

Mafrel akan memantau pilihan raya kecil Parlimen Sibu

Mafrel akan memantau pilihan raya kecil Parlimen Sibu

April 18, 2010, Sunday

KUCHING: Malaysian for Free and Fair Elections (Mafrel), akan meneruskan peranan sebagai pemantau bebas dalam pilihan raya kecil Parlimen Sibu.
Pengerusinya, Syed Ibrahim Alhabshi berkata, peng-iktirafan oleh Suruhanjaya Pilihan Raya (SPR) tidak diperlukan untuk proses pemantauan luar.

Bagaimanapun, proses pemantauan hanya merangkumi kawasan luar penamaan calon, kempen dan luar pusat mengundi berbanding pada masa lepas.

SPR pernah memberi kebenaran kepada Mafrel untuk memasuki tempat-tempat tersebut, termasuk pilihan raya kecil Dewan Undangan Negeri (DUN) Batang Ai pada April 2009.

“Tidak mendapat pengiktirafan daripada SPR bukan bermakna Mafrel terus tidak dapat melaksanakan kerja-kerja pemantauan,” katanya ketika dihubungi di Kuala Lumpur, semalam.

Menurut beliau, Mafrel akan mengadakan mesyuarat khusus bagi membincangkan perkara berkaitan pilihan raya kecil Parlimen Sibu selepas pilihan raya kecil Hulu Selangor.

Pilihan raya Parlimen Hulu Selangor diadakan pada 25 April ini, manakala semalam merupakan hari penamaan calon.

Bagi Parlimen Sibu, SPR menetapkan 16 Mei sebagai hari mengundi, selepas penamaan calon pada 8 Mei.

Mesyuarat Mafrel di Sarawak katanya, antara lain akan membincangkan jumlah petugas diperlukan.

Para petugas itu menurut beliau akan ditempatkan di beberapa kawasan tumpuan yang dikenal pasti kemudian.

“Kawasan tumpuan yang dimaksudkan kami ialah kawasan dijangka wujud persaingan sengit, kawasan panas dan jangkaan timbul keganasan,” katanya.

Sementara itu, Pengarah Pilihan Raya Negeri Datu Takun Sunggah berkata, Mafrel tidak diberi kebenaran untuk memasuki tempat penamaan calon, pengundian dan penjumlahan undi.

“Di Hulu Selangor pun mereka tidak dibenarkan. Begitu juga pilihan raya Parlimen Sibu kelak,” katanya.