Wednesday, June 26, 2013

UK backs push for reforms here


G Lavendran

June 26, 2013
Britain has "made clear" its belief that allegations of electoral irregularities made by the opposition parties and civil society groups should be "investigated fully".
PETALING JAYA: Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) has received positive feedback from British Prime Minister David Cameron’s government that Britain is “ready to support the process of reform where it can”.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Hugo Swire (left), said in a letter that Britain has always supported economic and political reform in Malaysia.
“Britain has consistently underlined its support for further political and economic reform in Malaysia.
“Britain has also maintained regular dialogues with civil society groups campaigning on human rights issues in order to clamp down on electoral fraud and human rights issues,” said Swire, who is also responsible for bi-lateral relations with Malaysia.
Swire said that electoral fraud and human rights issues should not be taken lightly and should be investigated thoroughly.
“The (British) government made clear our belief (to the government of Malaysia) that allegations of irregularities made by the opposition parties and civil society groups should be investigated fully..
“I have taken a keen interest in the conduct of the elections even though Britain was not invited to formally observe the poll,” he added.
Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group, William Cash, had furnished Suaram with digital copies of Swire’s letter dated June 13, 2013.
Swire is scheduled to visit soon
Suaram had earlier furnished the Labour MP for Rutherglen and Hamilton West, Tom Greatrex, along with other parliamentarians, reports of the electoral fraud allegations.
Greatrex had raised the issue during a parliamentary sitting. He pointed parliamentarians to “intimidation at polling places, phantom voters and incomplete electoral rolls”.
Swire had given a positive response to Greatrex’s question as to whether they will be taking up these issues with the Malaysian government.
“I’m going to Malaysia next week and I can confirm that I shall be looking into this first hand,” said Swire.
Suaram’s lobby on behalf of Bersih also led Swire to reveal that Britain had raised the issue of international observation of the recently concluded election with both the Election Commission and the government.
“The Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s government maintained that Malaysia was not seeking international election observers other than from Asean and domestic civil society groups,” said Swire.
“Nevertheless, the High Commission in Malaysia had sent teams to five states to observe campaigning. Our officers also visited a number of polling booths on polling day itself,” he added.
Swire is scheduled to visit Malaysia this week, ostensibly to work towards improving trade between the two countries.
~ Free Malaysia Today

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