The EC has announced the nomination of the Sarawak State Elections on Apr 6th and the polling day on Apr 16th. The 10 day campaign continue the tradition of EC to keep campaigning period to the minimum, while legally the EC can allow up to 60 days for campaigning. The longest ever allowed was 45 days in the 60’s. Anyway the Sarawak state election was tainted from the word `go’, as the EC chair Tan Sri Abdul Aziz announced the accredited election observer at the same press conference at Pullman Hotel at around 12.00noon today. The officially and solely accredited election observer group is Mafrel who had previously been denied accreditation due to its incapacity to produce observation reports on a continuous basis. It is not known why the EC suddenly allowed the accreditation-but the issue of Mafrel being led by a women leader of a well known political party, who has probably hopped to a new party by now, does not seems to bother the EC who insist that they only allow neutral, non-partisan observers! After the EC chairman was questioned at the press conference he promised to scrutinise Mafrel at a meeting on Mar 29th.
But the implication of the EC accrediting an observer group led by a political leader could truly be mind boggling! It goes against the norms in most countries if not the whole concept of election observation.
Now some facts about the political leader:
Name : Hasnah Hashim
Party affiliation: UMNO, then joined PKR, and now seen supporting KITA’s Zaid Ibrahim
Experiences in election observation: local and Afghanistan observation; one of the 2 directors in a company bearing Mafrel’s name, the registered legal entity behind Mafrel the NGO. She had been a Women national executive committee member of PKR when she was leading Mafrel. She was the Treasurer of Mafrel and then left the job after internal complaint of her party post; But with the support of Mafrel president Syed Ibrahim she took up the chairman post of the Technical Committee, which is how she introduced herself in a recent NGO forum last year in KL.
She is well known enough that there are 3830 results from a Google serch here.