RPK names human rights lawyer as ‘third force’ candidate

By Debra Chong, The Malaysian Insider

Controversial Malaysia Today editor Raja Petra Kamarudin, who recently helped set up a “third force” movement to fix what he terms Malaysia’s broken political system, has found his first “repairman”.

The self-exiled writer, popularly known as RPK, last night named prominent human rights activist Malik Imtiaz Sarwar as the first Malaysian Civil Liberties Movement (MCLM) candidate for the coming general election in an Internet broadcast live from London.

Malik has also confirmed the news.

“Yes I am. I accept. Will explain in a day or two,” he replied in a text message to The Malaysian Insider last night, after RPK’s announcement.

The lawyer is best known for representing Lina Joy, a Malay Muslim who sought to convert out of Islam into Christianity.

Also the president of the National Human Rights Society (Hakam), he has also fought and won Raja Petra his freedom from detention without trial under the Internal Security Act (ISA) two years ago.

For his work in that case, Malik was awarded the 2009 Bindmans Law Award given by British-based human rights magazine Index on Censorship to outstanding human rights activists who have set legal precedents in the fight against injustice.

Malik has been working with several non-profit organisations to push another review of the ISA, seeking to repeal the Act and work on a better replacement law.

He is also acting for the Selangor government in the ongoing Teoh Beng Hock inquest.

RPK said the other MCLM candidates would be revealed on December 19 in KL.

In the two-hour plus talk that drew in some 180 viewers online, the vocal government critic explained the “third force” initiative is not to compete with existing political parties but to provide them with professional and ethical candidates to stand in the next elections.

He appears to believe the move will help reform the law-making process.

“Our aim is not to win elections but to reform the political system,” he said and expressed disgust at how the present crop of lawmakers had forgotten their role as public representatives and were more focused on playing the political game.

“Our agenda is seeing the emergence of a two-party system where the two parties are well-matched,” Raja Petra added.

He claimed that former Cabinet minister Tan Sri Sanusi Junid had told him recently that former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had a similar idea to set up independent candidates for the coming election from professionals within the civil society.