Activist and dentist latest MLCM candidates

MCLM president Haris Ibrahim also says that the longer Najib takes to announce a date for the general election, the stronger its candidates will become.


KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Civil Liberties Movement (MCLM) has named former Awam president Haslinah Yacob and dentist Dr Nedunchelian Vengu as its third and fourth candidates for the next general election.

Hajjah, 49, has been involved in grassroots and advocacy work on women’s rights and empowerment for the past decade. She is also MCLM’s first woman candidate.

“I’ve been doing social work for a long while now and it’s only the tip of the iceberg,” she said during a press conference today. “I no longer want to stay on the sidelines but roll up my sleeves and do something.”

“The two issues closest to my heart at ethnicity – because my husband is Chinese – and women empowerment. So I will push for substantive equality and a safe space for all,” she added.

Nedunchelian, a 42-year-old private practitioner, has served on a Health Ministry committee and is well-known for his social work as well as his efforts to raise industry standards.

“I’m not anti-establishment,” he clarified. “I just see things that are not done correctly. And I told myself that the change I want has to start with me.”

“There is a Tamil saying that those who are educated will be seen everywhere,” he added. “This will be the crux of my message. I grew up in the middle income group and understand the challenges they face.”

On Dec 12, MCLM unveiled prominent lawyer and National Human Rights Society president Malik Imtiaz Sarwar as its first candidate.

Its second candidate, human rights lawyer Sreekant Pillai, was announced at the movement’s first public forum on Dec 21.

Launched on Oct 30, MCLM is headed by blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin as its chairman and lawyer Haris Ibrahim as its president. The movement aims to pick 30 candidates to be fielded in the 13th general election.

‘Longer it takes, stronger we get’

MCLM was meant to deploy its candidates during the last week of this month but the Tenang by-election threw it off schedule. However, Haris assured that full deployment would take place by early March.

“We plan to hold a roundtable session with non-Barisan Nasional parties at the end of February,” he said, but declined to disclose the parties that were expected to be present.

“The MCLM agenda is to push for the eradication of marginalisation of all human beings by the taking of federal power in the 13th general election,” he continued.

“There is marginalisation in all communities including that of the migrant community. We mustn’t forget them,” he said.

While Haris predicted that the general election would be held in the third quarter, he added that it would not affect MCLM.

“BN and Pakatan Rakyat have a practice of only deploying their candidates a few weeks before the election. We are deploying our candidates in March.

“So the longer that (Prime Minister) Najib (Tun Razak) takes to announce a date, the stronger our candidates will be because they will have time to work the ground,” he said.

Haris also clarified that while the purpose MCLM was to help political parties field better candidates, it was not necessary for the independents to belong to any party in order to contest.

He reasoned that if they had already become household names then association to a particular political party would not be a priority.

MCLM would announce three more candidates after Chinese New Year.

It was also in the final stages of setting up its Citizen Empowerment School which would offer training programmes in collaboration with the NGO, Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia.

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