PETALING JAYA: Social activist Chandra Muzaffar has warned members of civil society against showing a bias for the newly-formed government, saying their credibility is at stake.
“It’s already happening,” he told FMT, alleging that civic groups that used to attack Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi for wanting to have a general election during the monsoon season had “all gone quiet”.
“It’s a problem because it affects their credibility and standing in society,” he said.
Chandra, a political scientist, said groups making up the civil society of a nation played an important role in helping the public understand current issues but would no longer be able to fulfil this function if they exhibited prejudice.
“When you can’t help society understand the issues plaguing the country, you can’t contribute to the enlightenment and development of society,” he said.
Last Monday, Suaram adviser Kua Kia Soong alleged that civil society members seemed silent on issues involving Pakatan Harapan. “Public integrity is on trial,” he said.
Referring to civic groups that had called for Zahid’s exclusion from the new Cabinet, he said they did not make a similar call when Dr Mahathir Mohamad included DAP leader Lim Guan Eng in his Cabinet.
At the time, Lim was facing corruption charges over the purchase of a bungalow in Penang. Kua asked why civil society did not demand an explanation for the Attorney-General’s Chambers’ (AGC) decision to drop the charges.
Disagreeing with Kua, political analyst Wong Chin Huat said civic groups like Bersih had been consistent in speaking out on issues of public interest. He gave the example of calls for the roles of the public prosecutor and attorney-general to be separated.
Wong said there would always be people in any society who would pursue their grudges and others who would defend double standards.
He said society could move on only after structural causes were tackled.
“In Lim’s case, the AGC did provide an explanation but this is still being harped on,” he said. “This proves the issue is in the institutional structure and beyond the merit or demerit of the individual cases.”