It is time for Suaram to clarify its relationship with PKR and to explain to the people why it is behaving in such obviously partisan ways.
It seems Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim is up to his old tricks again: disguising friends and allies as impartial NGOs and using them to attack the government and to try and discredit our country’s elections.
Over the past two weeks a series of newspaper and blog reports has revealed that the self-styled “fiercely independent” fact-finding mission on elections in Malaysia is nothing more than an ad-hoc collection of Anwar’s foreign friends.
Unsurprisingly, the “mission”, led by the now infamous Australian Senator Nick Xenophon, has criticised Malaysia’s electoral system and recommended a series of changes that would likely favour PKR.
Now it transpires that another purportedly independent group, Suaram, is also stacked full of Anwar’s friends and cronies.
The group has been vocal in attacking Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak over the last few weeks in a politically motivated bid to reignite the Scorpene controversy – but Suaram has gone to great lengths to disguise its membership.
Indeed, there is not a word on its website about who its members are – a strangely publicity-shy decision for a campaigning organisation. A little digging, however, reveals that Suaram is so loaded with PKR affiliates it might as well be considered part of the opposition.
The organisation’s senior activists include PKR MPs Tian Chua and Sivarasa Rasiah, PKR supreme council member Irene Fernandez, PKR state assembly member Elizabeth Wong, and the former PKR deputy president Dr Syed Husin.
Other prominent Suaram activists include a DAP MP and senior officials of Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) – both part of the Pakatan Rakyat coalition and this partisanship goes right to the top.
Suaram director Cynthia Gabriel is also a Pakatan-appointed municipal councillor in the Petaling Jaya City Council. So there can be no doubt Suaram is PKR in all but name. Perhaps this explains why in recent months it has been acting less like an independent NGO and more like a political party in an election season.
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Not content with stirring up stale old allegations in the French courts, Suaram has gone to extraordinary lengths to try and get maximum political mileage.
It is going so far as to hold a RM10,000 a table dinner later this month entitled “Scorpene 2.0” at which, presumably, it will spoon-feed morsels of gossip to the PKR faithful.
But for those who are genuinely interested in the truth, Suaram’s behaviour raises a number of concerns. The French judge investigating Suaram’s allegations over Scorpene has said it will take him at least two years to come to a conclusion.
This begs the question: why doesn’t Suaram simply wait for the judge to deliver his verdict, instead of running around desperately trying to whip up a media storm?
Perhaps it is worried that the judge will conclude its allegations are hearsay and its evidence is flimsy and circumstantial? Or perhaps it has decided that a smear campaign is more valuable to PKR this side of the 13th general election?
Suaram is also, it seems, rather keen to stop the media from independently verifying any of the information it provides.
Whenever journalists have asked for access to original sources Suaram has cited French law, which it says prevents it from taking evidence outside of France.
Suaram has engineered a situation in which the information it is releasing to the world’s media cannot be independently assessed. It is effectively asking the media and the public to take Suaram at its word – but as we have seen, Suaram is hardly independent or motivated solely by wider public interest.
To those familiar with Anwar’s modus operandi, none of this will come as a surprise. But as the rakyat prepare to cast their votes in the most important election in a generation, they deserve to know the truth.
It is time for Suaram to put its cards on the table, to clarify its relationship with PKR and to explain to the people of Malaysia why it is behaving in such obviously partisan ways.
Zaidel Baharuddin is Mr Right, Mr Right Wing that is, electronics engineer by day writer by night, Frank Sinatra fanboy all day long, catch me at WirawanWeb.com, lipassepi.blogspot.com or follow me on twitter via @Sinatra_Z. He is a FMT columnist.