KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 30 — Malaysia still has a bright future if men like former leader Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad can change his mind, prominent lawyer and activist Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan said today.
The former co-chair of polls reform group Bersih 2.0 who now leads Malaysia’s National Human Rights Society was weighing in on the 90-year-old retired prime minister’s surprise appearance at Dataran Merdeka late yesterday evening during the Bersih 4 rally in the capital city.
“He is more than welcome to join us as a citizen of Malaysia. If someone like him can change his mind, there is still a hope for this country despite all that has been going on,” Ambiga told Malay Mail Online when met on the second day of the rally downtown.
“It goes to show that anything is possible,” she added.
The civil activist said she was taken aback by Dr Mahathir’s lightning visit, but added that it was understandable given the current political climate.
Dr Mahathir, who was prime minister from 1981 to 2003, was notorious for clamping down on any demonstration against the government.
Umno, the anchor party of the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition appears to be wracked by a leadership split following disagreements over the handling of debt-riddled state investor 1 Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
The overnight Bersih 4 rally that kicked off at 2pm yesterday and is planned to last till midnight today is demanding the resignation of the incumbent Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who has become a target for all the problems plaguing the country.
However, a number of political and economic analysts have previously said that much of the current problems besetting Malaysia did not happen overnight but was the build-up of policies during the 22-years under the Mahathir administration.
Dr Mahathir is rumoured to make a second appearance in the Bersih rally at 5pm today, at the Pasar Seni area.
Ambiga said she welcomed Dr Mahathir’s participation in Bersih 4, but added that he must agree to all of its five demands made by the organisers.
The overnight Bersih 4 rally targets to rally for 34-hours in three cities nationwide, although the demonstrations in Kuching and Kota Kinabalu ended prematurely today.
Other than calling for fair elections, Bersih 4 organisers are demanding institutional reforms to the economy and to the government to make the processes more transparent.