Ambiga talks to Cmdr Thayaparan–Part 2

March 25, 2016

MY COMMENT: “We badly needed to think outside the box”, says Ambiga. I agree, but why join hands with Tun Dr. Mahathir? We know that The Tun wants to protect his creation, UMNO Baru and leave behind a kleptocracy led by his son, Dato Seri Mukhriz Mahathir, the unceremoniously deposed Menteri Besar of Kedah, as Prime Minister of Malaysia.

The Dr. Mahathir Mohamad I knew in the 1970’s–Din Merican

At this stage of his life, our 4th Prime Minister is not about to be someone who will think outside the box. He is no longer the Dr. Mahathir Mohamad I knew and admired in the 1970s and 1980s. Then I remember he,  Royal Professor Ungku Abdul Aziz and Dr. Edward de Bono wanted to introduce lateral thinking in Malaysian/MARA schools. After 1987, he changed his mind and began to subjugate all institutions of governance and the Judiciary to the Executive Branch. It enabled him to remain in power until 2003 at our expense.

Today, we must thank him for making Prime Minister Dato’Seri Najib Razak, his successor twice removed, the most powerful man in our country.  Dato’ Ambiga and her friends in Hakam and Bersih  have lost focus and worse, they have forgotten history.–Din Merican

Ambiga talks to Cmdr Thayaparan–Part 2

“I don’t have a ‘side’ – I’m responsible for what I say and nothing else.”– Glenn Greenwald

The following is the second part of an interview with HAKAM President Ambiga Sreenevasan. The first part appeared yesterday.

How do you counter the perception that this declaration and the support of civil society personalities provides a fig leaf for the excesses of former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s tenure and gives public legitimacy to what is essentially a fight within a political party – UMNO?

It is naïve, I think, to say that this is just an UMNO fight and does not concern us. This is about the Prime Minister of the country who is facing a huge financial scandal. It impacts the whole nation. Furthermore, what happens in UMNO matters to all of us. They decide who the Prime Minister is and many members of the cabinet are from UMNO.

I think countering the perception you speak of will have to come from what we achieve with the Citizens’ Declaration. And of course our own conduct and what we project is important. We must give people the confidence that we will never give up on the reform agenda.

One must also look at the contents of the declaration. Is there anything there that is objectionable? Does it not contain some of the demands of Bersih at the rally last year? Maybe there could have been more in the declaration, but what it contains can be supported. There is nothing there to disagree with.

This declaration will be meaningless if it does not get the support of the masses. This, I believe, is one chance for us all to say as citizens that enough is enough.

What was your first reaction to the idea that civil society and Mahathir were going to work together?

In the last few years Malaysians have come up to me in despair and asked what is happening to the country and what can be done about it. The rallies did not seem to be working, the presenting of a motion of no confidence failed, our numerous ideas and calls for transparency have fallen on deaf ears. We badly needed to think outside the box.

Some people like (social activist) Hisham Rais have for some time now argued for the need for a coming together of people from all sides of the political divide. I was therefore not really surprised when the issue of the Citizens’ Declaration came up.

You cannot deny that it caught the people’s attention. In a sense it has started people talking and thinking. Opposing it is good for us too as it allows for a public discourse on issues confronting the nation. We need to also know our limits.

Do you think some of the hostility towards this declaration is the result of the problematic discourse in this country?

I would agree that some of the hostility could be due to the problematic discourse in the country. For example, the manner in which even Dr M is being criticised for teaming up with (DAP leader) Lim Kit Siang.

The unkind things that are being said by some in UMNO just reflect the consistent demonisation of Lim, which is wholly unfair. Lim is a true patriot and willing to put aside all the horrors of the past for the country. Likewise, with (jailed opposition leader) Anwar Ibrahim.

But here is the thing. Politics in this country has been a zero-sum game. You are either with BN or against BN. That meant that civil society who criticise the government will always be repelled by BN supporters no matter the merits of the argument.

Have you been given any assurances by the political players involved that reforms will be seriously carried out once Najib has been removed?

I believe that the fact that the signatories have signed up to the declaration shows their intention. As I said earlier, if it does not happen then we will have to continue our fight for it.

As a long-time proponent for reform, what is your advice to people who suffer from fatigue when it comes to reforming the system, seeing as how the Najib regime seems immune to change?

I have said this before and I will say it again. Now is not the time to give up. Those in power are counting on the people being fatigued and giving up. Change is never easy but it will come if we persevere.

As a former co-chairperson of Bersih, why do you think that the current Bersih steering committee drew the line between Bersih and chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah’s signing of the document in her personal capacity, if indeed this declaration was something that all Malaysians (including Bersih) fighting for reform should endorse?

There may have been a misunderstanding about Bersih’s position. This is a declaration by citizens. Organisations are not meant to endorse it. Individuals do so as citizens. In that way, people can make individual decisions whether to sign up or not. I believe this is one time when people must be allowed to act individually according to their conscience.

Whenever you criticise the establishment, you are supported wholeheartedly, but when you criticise the opposition, you are most often mocked. As someone who believes in principles and ethics, how do you convince people to move beyond their partisan stances?

This is always difficult. It arises from the “You are either with us or against us” thought process that I spoke of earlier. This is one of the things that has made politics so toxic in Malaysia. The other is, of course, the government that has been in power for so long which now feels insecure.

I suppose you can only convince people to move beyond partisan stances by changing the focus as to what truly matters i.e. strong institutions. People need to ensure that whoever they support will further this agenda rather than their own political agenda.

I believe that Malaysians are becoming more and more shrewd about politics. Ask any taxi driver. They will tell you what is wrong with this country, boldly and bluntly, without taking sides.


“Memo to extreme partisans: If you can’t bring yourselves to love your enemies, can you at least learn to hate your friends?”

– Walter Kirn

14 thoughts on “Ambiga talks to Cmdr Thayaparan–Part 2

  1. With all due respect, I have to disagree with the blog owner, Dato’ DIn Merican.

    The nation is in dire straits and desperately needs new leadership at the very top. Whatever one thinks of Dr M, he is courageously part of the fight.He deserves at least grudging respect. I would urge everyone to support the Citizens’ Declaration movement.

    If nothing is done, the emerging sultanistic regime will consolidate its power and lead our beloved country further down the road to failed state status, complete with economic ruin.

    P.S. As for TRH’s recent action, this shows his real “strength” of character.
    We should not pay any more attention to the writings and speeches of this individual.
    Dr. Phua, we can disagree. I am not afraid to express a dissenting view. To me, by relying on Tun Dr. Mahathir to lead this movement, Ambiga and cohort show how desperate they have become. It shows how successful Mahathir has been in creating a vacuum in our leadership structure such that he is still indispensable. What a damning shame.–Din Merican

  2. Mahathir probably had done wrong 70% of the time and he had been right 30% of the time.The right thing to do was to oppose him when he was wrong and to support him when he was(is)right.We should take similar position with regard to the opposition personalities as well.If adopt this attitude we wont have people with blind loyalty like we have seen since Merdeka and the politicians themselves wont take us for granted.Instead we still adopt the all or nothing attitude .

  3. If they truly want to think out the box, then my suggestion is they urged the likes of Amanah and Keadilan to move the needle of ideas among the Malay. It’s high time Malay reformist idea suggest rights are not absolute, that if they continue to look the other way on corruption and abuse, they lose their precious rights even if the population is 90% Malays.

  4. The whole argument will be settled when, (if it ever happens), Najib is removed and Mahathir, once more, call the shots.

    We would, then, either rejoice with pleasure, or repent in leisure.

  5. A the song goes, memories are like diamonds and rust. It depends on what memories one has of Octo. It was mostly dust for me, although some found gems.

    I don’t think anyone has any illusions of what he is capable of, or of his main purpose – which is decapitate the head of a toxic UMNOb. Yes, he’ll rule by proxy and our hope is that he will bring some sort of reconciliation in an environment already so corrupted and malignant, that it beggars belief. Hope and optimism is all we have.

    It should be obvious that as long as there is this huge Trust Deficit among the proletariat, we are headed into the abyss. Whether one supports Octo or not, it doesn’t matter. The outcome of the C.D matters.

    Although this song is almost 50yrs old, it reminds us that memories are ‘fickle’ – Mudah Lupa and all that:

  6. Under the context of nation’s governance, Malaysians have collectively adopted the Constitution when the nation was born in 1957, and all Malaysians are duty-bound to support and defend the Constitution. As far as nation’s governance is concerned, the Constitution is the supreme law of the land. There is no other governance rules and philosophy are of higher principles than the Constitution, until the present system is overthrown through a revolution, which by definition must be bloody if the existing Constitution is perceived as worth-defending-to-death by some.

    The leftist progressive’s reform agenda is not a governing principle higher than the Constitution regardless how much you love human right and justice, just like the Sharia law is not a governing principle higher than the Constitution regardless how devote you were a Muslim.

    The item 36 of the Citizens’ Declaration advocates removal of PM and whoever work for him from office without even mentioning election nor parliament procedure. The item 36 implies public opinion and signatures are what are needed to remove PM and whoever work for him. Such declaration is borderline treasonous and cannot yet be charged as treason only for no action be detected. The leftist progressive, who dig themselves too deep in the hole, can see their own treasonous tendency only when ulama starts a Muslims’ Declaration asking the signatures of Muslims who want to make Sharia Law as the supreme law of the land. Note Pew poll 2013 shows 86% of Muslim Malaysians want that.

    The genius of Dr. Mahathir is his ability to violate the Constitution, convincing you the violation is good for you, and make you want more of the violations. Had the Citizen’s Declaration failed to materialize, he might just start a Muslims’ Declaration.

  7. Citizen’s Declaration is about the rakyat, for the rakyat, and to be declared by the rakyat. It is not about Najib, not about Octo, nor it is about Anwar.
    Rakyat’s lack of hope is exactly all about the above.
    It is not about individuals. Yet, it is frustrating that the C.D. is all about Octo, Anwar, and Najib. Of course, it is also about LKS forgiving Octo. But, we all know LKS is not the future PM.

    As such, perhaps it is better for the nation to continue withering.
    There is something constructive in destruction. For today, long live Vishnu, so that we Malaysians would one-day come to our senses to dare to ask how we could live together in a world without Najib, Octo, and Anwar, and what that would mean.

    After all, each of the three knows fully well or perhaps even better that all others, of why they could not live with each other.
    The so-called rakyat was not consulted. Ambiga and gang do not represent the rakyat while those political parties you mentioned are 3 peas in a pod. UMNO under Najib is the odd one in a political triad. All have different different agendas. So take your pick. Nothing will come out of this. Talk is cheap.–Din Merican
    Perhaps, the lack of interest in C.D. is exactly what Haruki Murakami’s wrote in “IQ84”: Everyone, deep in their hearts, is waiting for the end of the world to come.

    If not, we should dare to believe in a world without the influence of the three, without UMNO, without DAP, without Keadilan.

  8. Lupus,
    Al Stewart’s song is more appropriate for those who opposes Octo leading the pack…….hahahahaha

    Who is Cassandra? So what if Cassandra predicts the downfall of Trojan. And the end result………hahahahaha!

    Guys and Gals,
    I have been introducing George Wallace. That twat Raja Petra Kamaruddin whom I believe he deserved the french revolution’s style beheading. To which Hishammuddin Rais would agree with me wholeheartedly. Too many royalists in Malaysia that spoil the country!!!!!
    Oh Listen what Hisham gonna say……..

    Guys & Gals,
    Watch again!

  9. Opposition is taking up non issues. They are not even thinking inside the box. And how to think outside the box. Frankly, there is no box because the human mind is capable of thinking in the global context. Do not restrict yourself by thinking inside or outside the box. Use the world as your box and try to think in that context. We have to get on even keel quickly. Just look at the Philippines after 30 years since the departure of His Excellency The Late President Marcos.

  10. Najib is PM today because it was him, Mahathir and his Mahathirism= MACCP.
    which Ambiga is supposed to help remove,the root cause the dire state of affairs , Not Najib as per se, because it will Not solve the problem, but instead, will create more, without even able to name a successor, not to mention about saving Malaysia.

    Bersih was destroyed and its image, now she want to help him ( Mahathir) to hijack the trust and the empowerment of people to advance his personal agendas, his son as PM and protect the massive wealth acquired, much are unexplainable and continue the mastery in Puppetry

    Would Ambiga similarly want to apologetically explain to the people on his behalf?
    Ambiga is now the famous civil society flipflopper with political ambitions. People change when they associate themselves with the wrong sort of people. She is a disappointment. Read her interview with Thayaparan (Part 1 and Part 2) and you can run holes in her arguments and comments. For example, she says we must think outside the box. What? With Tun Mahathir of all people? –Din Merican

  11. Din,
    Ambiga is indeed a disappointment.

    It only confirms my suspected perception a year ago , she cannot be relied on making a case based largely on merits, without having the inkling to socilatate populist publicity to cover her own weakness or the weakness of the case in question .

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