EC slams NGOs for revealing info on discussions 

(The Star) – The Election Com­mission (EC) has blasted certain non-governmental organisations (NGOs) for providing a political party with information on their discussions.

Its deputy chairman Datuk Wan Ahmad Wan Omar described this as unethical and a clear breach of the confidentality that both the EC and the NGOs, which would be monitoring the general election, had agreed on.

“We have met three times and the representatives agreed with the stipulated conditions. If they did not agree with the conditions, why not raise the matter during the meetings?

“Why must they go behind us and run to a political party to voice their dissatisfaction?” he told The Star yesterday.

Informing a political party on issues raised during these meetings, said Wan Ahmad, showed that the NGOs were not impartial – a vital “must have” criterion if they wanted to be objective in monitoring the elections.

“The NGOs can be perceived as a political informer. This is clearly a breach of confidentiality that each of the NGOs involved is aware of. The EC had impressed on them many times that the discussions were confidential.

“They are being unethical. We also want to find out who among them is the one with a ‘big mouth’,” said an upset Wan Ahmad.

The EC, he clarified, had identified 16 NGOs to be given observer status during the elections but they were yet to be accredited.

“The plan was for the commission to have a ceremony to hand over the accreditations and allow the NGOs to tell the press their work plan,” he said.

PKR secretary-general Datuk Saifuddin Nasution Ismail had earlier been quoted in an online portal as saying that the EC’s conditions for bodies monitoring the elections did not reflect transparency and fairness as they included barring observers from the counting of ballots.

Dismissing this claim, Wan Ahmad insisted that observers would be allowed in the counting area but that their number would have to be capped due to space constraints.

He added that this was in line with international standard operating procedure.

“Ballot counting is an important election process. How can we not allow them to observe this? But we cannot allow too many of them because of space.

“Agents of candidates will also be present to closely monitor this,” said Wan Ahmad.

“I do not know whether the NGOs involved do not understand us or that the political party has twisted the issue.”