‘Sorry Anwar, Australia can’t help you’

CARR: Australia is not the election authority for Malaysia. 

(Bernama) – Australia cannot and will not influence how Malaysia’s elections are run despite a personal plea for help from Malaysian Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, said Australian Foreign Minister Senator Bob Carr.

Anwar had reportedly written to Senator Carr asking for Australia to help ensure that the next Malaysian general election, most probably to be held early next year, was free of fraud and corruption.

Anwar had reportedly told Carr he had uncovered evidence of fraudulent voter registration and other anomalies in the run-up to the polls. He had also questioned the independence of the electoral commission and claimed that the opposition was being excluded from the media.

But Senator Carr said the Malaysian elections were a matter for the Malaysian people.

“It’s very hard for Australia to do anything about how they’re run, as hard as it would be for Malaysia or another government to have a say in how Australian elections are run,” he told ABC radio.

“We’re not the election authority for Malaysia.”

Carr said Australia wanted to see free and fair elections in every country. He said Anwar personally raised the concerns directly with him during a recent visit to Malaysia.

Carr also poured cold water on the specific proposal of Australia sending election monitors to Malaysia, saying the Malaysian government would have to ask for the measure.

He dismissed the suggestion that Canberra was reluctant to act because it wanted to maintain good relations with (Malaysian Prime Minister) Najib’s government, with which it was still negotiating an asylum seeker swap deal.

In an interview with ABC Radio on Wednesday, Anwar said he was concerned the election, which must be held by next June, would be rigged, and would have a large number of people eligible to vote but who would not be allowed to vote.

Others far too young to vote, between age two and 12, were also on the rolls, he said.

Anwar also claimed that the opposition had been denied access to the mainstream media.

Anwar had discussed his concerns with former Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd and sent a note to Carr seeking Australian assistance, saying Australia supported free and fair elections in Iraq, Afghanistan and Myanmar, and yet it was silent on Malaysia.