Was GE13 Free and Fair? An Interim Observation Report on Malaysia’s 13th General Elections

This election observation mission was conducted to assess the freedom and fairness of Malaysia’s GE13 against international standards. It is important to note that the phrase “free and fair” needs to be de ned clearly to allow this report to be read in the most appropriate context. After reviewing various benchmarks, we decided on using the widely-accepted “Declaration on Criteria for Free and Fair Elections” that is adopted by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU)1, of which Malaysia is a member. This benchmark provides a clear and concise de nition of the phrase.

Our mandate was to observe, record, analyse and report the overall conduct of GE13, including the key events leading up to it.

The scope of our observation mission does not authorise us to intervene or propose recommendations before GE13. Our mandate was to produce a report after GE13 to evaluate if the conduct of GE13 was free and fair.

Our findings cover two areas – the wider perspectives on events prior to nomination day (Section 4), and the ndings from our short-term observation on the eld between nomination day and the announcement of results (Section 5). Although our appointment was only of cial for the period between dissolution of parliament and polling day, we include our analysis of the broader perspectives leading up to GE13 for readers to obtain a deeper appreciation of this report’s context.

We were appointed by the EC to observe the electoral conduct in Peninsula Malaysia. Therefore, Section 5 of this report presents our findings for Peninsula Malaysia only. This report was submitted to the EC at 9:30am on Wednesday, 8th May 2013.


Upon receiving formal accreditation on 31 January 2013, we commenced recruiting and training of short-term observers. Our team travelled to all 11 states and the Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya in Peninsula Malaysia to recruit members of the public, and subsequently to run training sessions on the election observation process. Altogether, we conducted 22 training events over seven weeks to recruit and train our short-term observers.

Our research team examined the political and legal contexts of GE13. They examined the relevant laws and regulations, including recent developments following the recommendations made by the Parliamentary Select Committee on Electoral Reform.
Our research team also developed a set of nine forms to be used by short- term observers, covering nomination day, the campaign period, advanced voting, polling day, and the counting, tallying and announcement of results. The forms were designed through consultations with MAFREL and Merdeka Center. The full set of forms is available in Appendix A.

Our team set up telephone and email hotlines to receive public reports of electoral misconduct. A webpage was also designed to:

• Publicise our recruitment efforts
• Receive reports from members of the public, including pictures and
videos of alleged misconduct
• Receive observation reports from our short-term observers

In total our team deployed 311 short-term observers to 99 out of 165 parliamentary constituencies in Peninsula Malaysia (60% of the total number of constituencies). For a complete list of constituencies covered in our observation, please refer to Appendix B.

In addition to our observers in Malaysia, we also had two observers in France, two in Switzerland, one in the USA, two in Hong Kong, two in the UK and ve in the UAE to observe overseas voting on 28 April 2013.

To read the full report, please download the PDF below.

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