Irene Fernandez: Activist, friend, and a great daughter of Malaysia — BERSIH 2.0

MARCH 31 — BERSIH 2.0 is saddened to hear the passing of Irene Fernandez, one of Malaysia’s foremost human rights activists.

Irene had a formidable record in activism that spanned across decades and a whole range of difficult, non-mainstream issues related to the poor and marginalised — from people living with HIV to plantation, domestic, sex and migrant workers. Her indefatigable lifelong work for the people earned her the prestigious Right Livelihood Award in 2005.

But Irene never rested on her laurels and continued to give her invaluable contributions to many struggles, including for free and fair elections. She was a member of the organising committee of the recently concluded People’s Tribunal on Malaysia’s 13th General Election and had been on her way to attend the delivery of the report of the Tribunal when she suffered heart failure and had to be immediately hospitalised.

Our heartfelt condolences to her family, relatives, friends, colleagues and the millions of people whose lives in Malaysia have improved because of her, and to her global friends whose lives she had touched and inspired. Like them, BERSIH 2.0 is proud and grateful to have known Irene — a daughter of Malaysia who could hold her own among her international peers. 

Since Irene has dedicated her life’s work to us, we cannot let it go to waste. She was the standard-bearer for the struggle against oppression in Malaysia and we must carry on this eternal struggle. Irene will always be an inspiration to all Malaysians who aspire to make our country better for everyone.

May she rest in peace — at long last and so well-deserved.

Issued by

The Steering Committee of BERSIH 2.0, which comprises:

Maria Chin Abdullah (Chairperson), Dr Farouk Musa (Deputy Chairperson), Masjaliza Hamzah (Treasurer), Farhana Halim, New Sin Yew, Jannie Lasimbang (Sabah Vice-chair), Ahmad b. Awang Ali (Sarawak Vice-chair), Abd Halim b. Wan Ismail (East Peninsula Vice-chair), Thomas Fann (South Peninsula Vice-chair), Simon Lee Ying Wai (Central Peninsula Vice-chair) and Dato’ Dr Toh Kin Woon (North Peninsula Vice-chair).

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malay Mail Online.