Rais demonising citizens through Bersih, says Ambiga
KUALA LUMPUR, June 18 — Bersih 2.0 chairman Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan denied today all links between the recent spate of cyber attacks on government websites and her electoral reform group raised yesterday by Datuk Seri Rais Yatim, saying his conjecture is an attack on Malaysians.
A group of hackers calling themselves Anonymous mounted an attack on at least 200 websites last Thursday, saying they are against censorship of websites by the government.
“It’s a wholly unfounded, unreasonable, preposterous suggestion made by a Cabinet minister who should really know better than to make such wild accusations,” she told The Malaysian Insider.
She added that Rais’s comment was an attack not just on Bersih but on Malaysian citizens’ constitutional right to assemble peaceably.
“I am entirely surprised by the ranting of a few members of the government against Bersih 2.0 and their attempts to demonise Bersih; and I view Rais Yatim’s comments as one of these attempts.
“I consider this an attack on the people and it is a shame they chose to do this rather than listen to the people,” the former Malaysian Bar president said.
Rais, who is the information, communication and culture minister, had linked yesterday the mass attacks on some 200 local websites to the upcoming Bersih rally on July 9 after Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Datuk Seri Maximus Ongkili told reporters initial investigations showed 90 per cent of the hackers were based in Malaysia.
Rais further described the cyber attacks as politically-motivated and intended to disrupt the workings of the government, but did not provide details as to how the denial of service attacks were related to the July 9 rally that is pushing for electoral reforms.
“If, for example, a land authority website is hacked, then property transactions will be interrupted. The same goes for banking and others; these cyber attacks are strange and, sadly, politically motivated,” he said in a news conference.
Ambiga lamented the extreme reactions to the Bersih rally and advised Putrajaya to rethink their approach to civil society.
“In my view, responding to people by demonising and branding people is the wrong approach,” she said.
She added that the Najb administration could learn something from the Singapore government, which had emerged slightly bruised from its recent general election and said it would listen to voters.
“I was impressed with the standard of debate by all parties, including the opposition, where they discussed and debated policy rather than descending into filth,” Ambiga said.
“What Bersih wants is a higher standard of elections. We want clean elections. Now, is that too much to ask?” she asked.
Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin told an inaugural business forum between Malaysia and Africa earlier today that changing social expectations was among the challenges Putrajaya must address in its bid for Malaysia to become a developed nation by 2020.
“From an economic perspective, there are many lessons that one can learn from these events — strong anti-bribery laws must be enacted and implemented; enforcement of these laws must be done without fear or favour; engagement of civil society to tackle abuses of power; and encouraging open communication to promote accountability,” he said, referring to what has come to be termed the Arab Spring.