KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 23 — Resplendent in a black-and-gold sari, Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan was tonight conferred France’s highest honour, the Chevalier de Legion d’Honneur (Knight of the Legion of Honour).
As he pinned the distinctive five-pointed medal on her sari, France’s ambassador to Malaysia, Marc Barety, said the award was to recognise Ambiga’s dedication to human rights and to boost the rule of law in Malaysia.
Bank Negara governor Tan Sri Zeti Aziz was another recipient this year, but was unable to attend the award ceremony, Barety said. He added that a separate award ceremony would be arranged for her at a later date.
He noted the leadership of the then president of the Malaysian Bar in a 2008 forum on Orang Asli issues, jointly organised by the French embassy and the European Union, as having contributed strongly to the nomination of Ambiga.
“I think it reflects well on Malaysia’s civil society,” Ambiga said in her acceptance speech, with a nod to Najib’s latest pledge to repeal the Internal Security Act and other security laws that allowed for preventive detention.
“It really shows how important civil society is; they are the eyes and ears of the rakyat,” Ambiga said, vowing to continue her charge to improve the rule of law.