KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 2 — Lawyer and human rights activist Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan today denied rumours that she is being considered to head the Election Commission (EC) replacing Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun who resigned to take up the Dewan Rakyat Speaker post.
Ambiga took right-wing Malay group Pertubuhan Pribumi Perkasa Malaysia (Perkasa) to task for their being up-in-arms over her alleged appointment, to the point of them bringing up her advocacy for LGBT rights.
Speaking to Malay Mail, Ambiga said that the appointment of the next EC chairman is now being closely watched by those who have been fighting for a clean and fair election system.
Ambiga also lamented that Azhar’s exit from the Commission has now left it “vulnerable”.
“Perkasa should really check its facts before going on a long racist and homophobic tirade. I am not being nominated for EC chair, and I would be very surprised if I was even in the running.
“As far as the chairmanship of the EC is concerned, all of us who fought for years for clean and fair elections are watching this very closely. The former EC chair’s resignation has unfortunately left this important Commission vulnerable. I hope those in Perikatan Nasional (PN) who were with us in our struggle for free and fair elections, will recall the years and years of hard work by the rakyat to see the establishment of an independent Election Commission.
“This important appointment of the EC chair will surely demonstrate if in fact, PN remains committed to free and fair elections. It would be shocking if they are not,” she said.
Malaysia Gazette quoted Perkasa secretary-general Syed Hassan Syed Ali, saying that Ambiga is unfit for public office, owing to her pro-LGBT stance.
Syed Hassan also claimed that rumours have been circulating that the now-former EC Commissioner, Datuk Seri Ramlan Ibrahim had resigned from the Commission recently, purportedly in protest over the PN government’s suggestion to appoint Ambiga to head the EC.
“But coming back to Perkasa’s attack on one of the most vulnerable communities in Malaysia, the LGBT community, which they seem to have a preoccupation with, what part of what I say are they objecting to?
“Is it the part where I say all human beings (including the LGBT community) deserve to be treated with dignity? That no one should have to live in fear? That no one should be threatened or physically harmed or their lives put at risk because of who they are? That all Malaysians regardless of who they are, enjoy the same fundamental rights under the (Federal) Constitution?
“Which part of that does anyone have an issue with? It merely requires all of us to behave humanely and justly and I make no apologies for advancing my defence of any oppressed community,” she added.