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Ambiga: I don’t recognise some in gov’t who were so fearless before

January 20, 2020

Former National Human Rights Society president Ambiga Sreenevasan said she no longer recognises some of those in Pakatan Harapan who were so fearless before they became part of the government.

“It takes courage to do things differently from the way it has been done in the past.

“That is why we voted this government in because when they were the opposition, they were incredibly brave actually. You know in Bersih and such, they had no fear.

“So I don’t recognise some of these people who have gone into the government and are now so afraid of the people who put them there. I find all that a little bit alarming,” Ambiga (photo) said during a forum titled ‘Institutional Reforms Committee (IRC) Report: Why the Secrecy?’ held in Kuala Lumpur today.

The recommendations contained within the IRC report relate to good governance, she said, but releasing the report to the public is also about good governance.

“If they can’t even take the first step, what are they looking at all the other recommendations about good governance for?” she said.

She said the government in the past was used to hiding everything because they do not have the courage to release pertinent information to the public.

She described the former government’s motto as ‘if in doubt, hide’.

That could be the principle in play right now, with regards to the current government’s refusal to publish the IRC report, she said.

“I am trying to hazard a guess as to why they are not releasing (the report) and maybe I can give you a couple of reasons why.

“Perhaps one, they do not want the public’s expectations to be raised and then if they do not deliver, it’s a reflection on them.

“The other one is they do not want any negativity or cold water being poured on any of the suggestions… now that’s a very charitable way of looking at their reasons for not releasing (the report).

“But I think it is the ‘if in doubt, hide’ principle that’s at play,” Ambiga said.

Ambiga was part of the IRC, which falls under the Council of Eminent Persons (CEP), was set up to look into the reform of key institutions such as the Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC), the police force, the MACC and the Election Commission (EC) among others.

Aside from Ambiga, other members of the IRC were retired Court of Appeal judges KC Vohrah, Mah Weng Kwai, National Patriots Association president Mohamed Arshad Raji and constitutional law expert Shad Saleem Faruqi.

They submitted their finalised report to the CEP and the Prime Minister’s Department in July 2018.

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