Lajim made election observer as Govt agency rep — EC

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SANDAKAN (April 29): The appointment of politician Datuk Lajim Ukin as an observer for the Sandakan by-election nomination last Saturday was made under the category for eligible Government agencies, the Election Commission (EC) said today.

It came under the Electoral Reform Committee and was not connected to his political party, the EC chairman Azhar Azizan Harun said in a statement.

He said EC had taken note of a statement by BERSIH 2.0 yesterday questioning whether an active politician like Lajim could remain neutral as an observer in the nomination process.

Azhar said EC has set certain criteria for appointing observers, like appointment from among qualified Government agencies, non-governmental organisations (NGO) or eligible organisations registered with the Registrar of Societies or Companies Commission of Malaysia (only non-profit-oriented companies).

He said others eligible for appointment as observers include Malaysians with the expertise to improve the election process, involved in activities closely associated with the community, and who are neutral.

Azhar said the eligibility of individuals or organisations applying to be observers will be evaluated according to the criteria and those appointed are required to sign a pledge to abide by certain rules when discharging their duties.

“Those found to have breached the pledge can be dropped and blacklisted from becoming observers in any election,” he said.

Azhar said based on feedback from groups like BERSIH 2.0, the EC would study the possibility of reviewing the criteria for appointing election observers.