Ambiga now Umno’s troubled nightmare

By Jeswan Kaur, FMT

Ambiga Sreenevasan, former Bar Council president and recipient of the US Secretary of State’s 2009 International Women of Courage Award and France’s topmost honour, the Chevalier de Legion d’Honneur(Knight of the Legion of Honour) award, has become Umno’s most troubled nightmare.

The Malay party has post-July 9 left no stone unturned in making life difficult for this former Convent Bukit Nanas student, who has been honoured with the two awards for her dedication to human rights and rule of law.

When Ambiga, who is also election watchdog Bersih 2.0 chairperson, spearheaded the “Walk for Democracy” rally on July 9 and did so successfully, it was the beginning of a nightmare that has since refused to end for Umno. Some 50,000 people turned up in support of the rally, a bitter reality which Umno refuses to digest.

The July 9 rally’s aim was noble – to fight for electoral reforms and put an end to the corruption and dirty tactics employed by the Barisan Nasional at the polls. And the people backed Bersih 2.0 all the way, a move which shell-shocked both the BN and Umno.

While all ways and means are being employed by BN president and prime minister Najib Tun Razak to win the people’s trust, Umno has however turned vindictive against Ambiga, whom it regards as its biggest threat post-July 9.

Ambiga, however, remains unflappable, objective and wise. With all sense of decorum, she had prior to the July 9 rally approached the police and asked that they chart out the rally routes to avoid any untoward incident. But the police, obviously under great pressure from the “powers that be”, refused to cooperate.

Not only that, extremist politicians in a cowardly fashion joined in and demanded that Ambiga be dealt with severely. The likes of Ibrahim Ali, the Pasir Mas MP, and other Umno honchos, went after Ambiga’s blood, so to speak. She was character-assassinated all because this gutsy lawyer dare speak out against injustice.

So threatened had Umno become that Ibrahim and even Malacca Chief Minister Ali Rustam screamed for Ambiga’s citizenship to be revoked.

Ali Rustam had remarked that it was “better to just lose one person than to lose a lot of lives”.

Now, it is the Malay Education Movement (Gagasan) which is demanding Ambiga’s citizenship be revoked, alleging her “wild” actions could cause chaos in the country, referring to her support for the Seksualiti Merdeka 2011 festival.

Gagasan secretary-general Syed Anuar Syed Mohamad in an Utusan Malaysia report on Nov 6 said Ambiga should no longer be called a human as she had gone against “human norms” by raising issues deemed sensitive in a Muslim-majority country.

“She should be punished accordingly, like banishment or any other severe sentence, to make her realise her mistake,” he told Mingguan Malaysia, the paper’s Sunday edition.

He added that the Conference of Rulers could punish Ambiga as she had touched on Islam when she “spread morality issues” banned by the religion.

“Although Malaysia is a democratic country, it does not mean Ambiga is given the freedom to do whatever she likes with her perverse ideology,” he said.

The Ambiga factor