Time for Putrajaya to fund Bersih, says Ambiga

Ambiga Sreenevasan says Bersih’s presence is critical to ensure everyone behaves responsibly in every election.

PETALING JAYA: Former Bersih 2.0 chairman Ambiga Sreenevasan said it is time for Putrajaya to fund the electoral watchdog because of the “kind of work” it does.

The lawyer-activist said, however, it must come with no strings attached.

Ambiga said Bersih’s presence is critical as it needs to be around to ensure everyone behaves responsibly in every election, noting it does so much work on the ground during the polls.

And with the impending Sarawak elections, which must be held by 2021, she said Bersih needs to get its people on the ground.

“So I would like to see this government, despite Bersih’s criticism, say they will give them some form of funding so they can carry on their important work,” she said at a Bersih fundraising dinner last night.

Also present were Bersih chairman Thomas Fann and Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission chief Latheefa Koya.

Bersih was formed in 2006 by leaders from political parties, civil society groups and NGOs, before it was relaunched as a civil society movement in 2010.

It has held five rallies and called for electoral reform, including the use of indelible ink.

In paying tribute to Bersih, Ambiga said it has since morphed into a movement for democracy, where its focus is not just elections.

It still has a lot of work to do, she said, such as pushing for a two-term limit for the prime minister.

She also said Global Bersih is among the watchdog’s biggest achievements because it “woke Malaysians overseas up”.

“And till today, they continue to play a vital role in keeping the dream of democracy alive from wherever they are,” she said.