The Borneo Post Online
Saturday, May 23rd, 2009
We report what we saw, says state Mafrel chief
By Churchill Edward
KUCHING: Malaysians for Free and Fair Election (Mafrel) Sarawak will be
launching its compilation of reports on the April 7 Batang Ai by-election
in two months’ time.
Speaking to reporters yesterday, Mafrel state chief coordinator Peter John
Jaban said their findings in Batang Ai were based on what they had
observed or seen, not on hearsay or unsubstantiated com-plaints.
“Most importantly, the report should create greater public awareness on
various election offences as well as the ‘dos and don’ts’ during
nomination, campaigning and polling apart from suggesting solutions and
giving constructive criticisms to make future elections fair and free.”
Peter said some complaints were worth investigating but without evidence
there was not much they or the authorities could do.
“Mafrel doesn’t condemn but provides constructive criticism,” he said,
adding that during the by-election both sides of the political divide had
done some wrongs and committed some form of unfairness either through
their agents or loyal supporters.
“Mafrel is not an enforcement agency but a body that would assist the
Election Commission (EC) to maintain democracy, order and fair election,”
The launch will be held in conjunction with the opening of Mafrel
Sarawak’s three branches – one each in Kuching, Sibu and Miri.
According to Peter, right now Mafrel’s office is a mobile one.
“It is about time that we set up permanent offices throughout Sarawak
apart from intensifying efforts to recruit more volunteers in preparation
for the next state polls,” he said.
Peter said currently it has almost 30 registered volunteers.
“Certainly this number of volunteers will not be enough to cover the whole
of Sarawak in the next state election,” he said.
Meanwhile, Four Sarawak volunteers, led by Peter himself, headed for
training mission by accompanying Mafrel Northern Region which will be
monitoring the Penanti by-election.
The team would join the experienced team of Mafrel people from the
Northern Region headed by BK Ong, to gain first-hand knowledge in
organising and implementing the tasks of election monitoring.
Peter said monitoring the Penanti by-election was of major significance as
the seat was in the state under the Pakatan Rakyat government.
He said it was of particular interest because it wanted to see if Pakatan
Rakyat would abuse government machinery or not.
“We want to send the clearest possible message that Mafrel is independent
and non-partisan when carrying out our tasks and we make no apologies for
exposing abuses of government machinery to the advantage of the ruling
government,” Peter stressed
“Whether it is a Barisan Nasional or Pakatan Rakyat government, any abuse
of the public resources in any election in favour of the ruling government
will be documented and reported as such for all to see,” he said.