KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 2 — Former Malaysian Bar president and activist Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan has expressed concern that Pakatan Harapan lawmakers are losing touch with the common people, who are becoming increasingly disenchanted.
The lawyer said when PH was still the Opposition prior to the 14th general election (GE14), they were with the people on the streets, speaking and reaching out to them at all times but now there appears to be a big gap when it comes to engaging with the rakyat.
In an interview with the Malay Mail recently, she said one of the things she has observed is that the people are no longer informed on the government’s plans and their patience was running out.
The former member of the Institutional Reforms Committee said PH should not get too comfortable with where they are right now.
“None of them in PH have that characteristic to go down and meet the people... no one has been seen going down to the people nowadays. My advice to them is don’t get too used to the power,” she said.
Ambiga cited examples of how Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan, Umno MP, recently whipped up a bizarre dish of fried rice with strawberries from Cameron Highlands and how other Barisan Nasional candidates including former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak was seen on the ground driving a four-wheel drive through muddy terrain and rivers, having meals and activities with the rural area voters during the state seat’s by-election campaign.
“You know that’s the touch, Pakatan cannot afford to lose that. Of course, it is difficult while you have other jobs to carry out in the respective ministries.
“But Pakatan must also understand we are coming in at a difficult time — recession time — and the patience of the people is running out.
“I’m always of the view that reform and change must occur quickly because if you wait too long, they will lose the stomach for reform. They will start thinking of the next elections,” she said.
Ambiga went on to say she felt sorry for Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad who has a lot on his plate but says Malaysia needs to be informed of the bigger picture.
“The people need to be told, how much is being done. I hope we get a one-year report card. The government used to keep the people informed time to time when they just took office but what happened now?
“It is going to be a tough ride this year. It is going to be very tough. Come out and be honest with us. Tell us the problem and your plans. What Malaysians need now is hope.”
Ambiga said there were so many Malaysians such as independent individuals to do write up or studies and economist from overseas who were ready to come home to help the nation post GE14.
“If [PH] think they are so overworked then they need to get help from the people. What happened to all those abroad who were willing to return and help build the nation? They wrote to you and volunteered.
“How are you nurturing the energy the people felt in GE14? If we are being unfair then tell us why you think we are being unfair. We need to know what you’re doing,” she added.