Can the Malaysian Civil Liberties Movement give life to the much talked about ‘Third Force’?

Posted on October 27, 2010


Last Monday, RPK wrote in MToday that he had, in 2004, “attended the inaugural meeting of the Malaysian Civil Liberties Society (MCLS)…That was six years ago and after six years nothing further has happened. This is because the MCLS is still awaiting the approval of its registration”.

I, too, was at that inaugural meeting and to this day I remain a protem committee of the MCLS that awaits registration.

I have given up waiting on the registrar of societies.

I was therefore excited to read in RPK’s posting that this coming Saturday, 30th October, he will cause to be registered in the UK the Malaysian Civil Liberties Movement.

It’s objectives, as disclosed by RPK in his post, are :

  • to promote and propagate the People’s Voice & the People’s Declaration to all political parties contesting the coming general election.
  • to ‘offer’ non-political party candidates from amongst the Malaysian professionals/lawyers and the civil society movements to ALL the political parties contesting the general election that may either be short of candidates or are not able to find ‘quality’ candidates to field in the elections

In a post entitled ‘Why the mad scramble’ yesterday, RPK disclosed that the immediate focus of the MCLM is to engage the 3 Pakatan Rakyat parties  in dialogues to try to convince them to change their system of candidate selection in the general and by-elections.This, RPK elaborates today in his ‘When you don’t trust your own people’ post, spotlighting two issues : first, which party gets to contest which seat and, second, the practice by political parties of naming candidates at the eleventh hour.

In three posts, RPK has summed up the concerns of so many of us about what is believed to be an imminent 13th GE that offers an opportunity displace BN from federal governance, and an opposition that does not look quite so ready to go to war and despatch BN to the Indian Ocean.

I received an e-mail last Monday inquiring if I would be willing to serve as the interim spokesperson for MCLM until this Saturday when they will officially appoint office bearers.

I replied in the affirmative, subject to getting clarification on one point. The first objective talks about making available civil society candidates to ALL parties. Did that include BN?

The reply I got was reassuring.

All non-BN parties.

I agreed to that request, for one reason only.

If you compare the objects of MCLM as disclosed by RPK with the much discussed Third Force, I think you will find little difference between the two.

Before I go any further, I want to observe and acknowledge here that many have expressed concerns and reservations about the ‘Third Force’ that has been mooted by many, myself included.

The concern has principally been about this ‘Third Force’ forcing three-corner fights in the 13th GE.

Maybe the very name, ‘Third Force’ conjures in the minds of many civil society forcing three-corner fights in the 13th GE, although I have in many posts emphasised that this is not the case.

Let me say it clearly now that that which I have been speaking of as the ‘Third Force’ is no different from the initiative and objectives that RPK now moots through the MCLM.

However, to placate the many concerned out there, let’s stop calling it the Third Force.

Let’s call it ‘Inisiatif Rakyat’ or simply IR.

Or any other name that any of you would care to suggest.

I agreed to serve as interim spokesperson in the hope that, in that capacity, I could try to get MCLM to serve as the platform by which we push forth IR or whatever name you want to call it, to make ready for the 13th GE.

Should we try?

I’d like to hear your thoughts on this.