Ambiga to leave Bersih after GE 13

G Vinod | August 22, 2012
The Bersih co-chaiperson told Bloomberg that she wants to devote more time to her firm which specialises on many legal issues.
PETALING JAYA: Bersih co-chaiperson S Ambiga said that she would step down from the electoral reforms movement after the next general election.
In an interview with Bloomberg today, Ambiga said that she intended to pay more attention to her firm which specialises in commercial, intellectual property and industrial law.
Ambiga, a former Bar Council president, shot to fame after leading two Bersih rallies in 2010 and in April this year, calling for reforms to the Malaysian electoral system.
Although she received support from Pakatan Rakyat and other NGOs, the government had poured scorn over her attempts, claiming that she was a “pawn” of the opposition.
Sri Gading MP Mohamad Aziz even called for her hanging during a parliamentary session, but withdrew his remarks after receiving brickbats from his own colleagues in the ruling coalition.
In the interview, Ambiga said that she has some unfinished business from her previous campaign on women’s rights, which was not well received by the government.
“The courts had abdicated their responsibility over a lot of family law issues in situations involving both the syariah and civil courts,” she said.
Ambiga was referring to cases where husbands converted to Islam and unilaterally converted their children too, creating a lot of confusion in families and leaving their wives in the doldrums.
“In 2008, the government had proposed legislation requiring individuals wishing to convert to first inform family members and address custody issues, but the process was stalled at the Council of Rulers, who are responsible for Islamic affairs,” said Ambiga.
On growing calls for reforms, she said that the government could ill-afford to ignore the masses and one way to live by the people’s aspiration is by making the electoral system free and fair.
“If enough people want change, there’s very little anyone can do to stop it,” she said. “Malaysians are generally peace-loving – we are nowhere near what was happening in the Middle East, Tunisia and Egypt.
“But we are at the right point in time for positive change, and if we are going to bring change, we only want to do it by clean and fair elections,” said Ambiga.

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