PETALING JAYA – March 6, 2018: After denying last month a rumour about her political ambition, social activist Maria Chin Abdullah today officially made an about turn by announcing she will contest in the general elections.
In doing so, Maria also ended her five-year stint as chairman of the Coalition of Free and Fair Elections (Bersih), which has also stated that it has never been a neutral non-governmental organisation but instead one that seeks electoral reforms.
Speaking at a press conference here, Maria said she had a change of heart because she thinks the 14th GE presents an opportunity to push Bersih’s agenda.
“Our nation’s leaders and existing institutions have practically ignored and sidelined us when we campaigned for reforms in elections, sought to abolish draconian laws, re-establish justice in the judiciary, called for gender equality, end a culture of fear, end to income disparities, an end to environmental disruption, including violent discourses,” she said.
She will contest as an independent candidate under the flag of the Pakatan Harapan opposition pact. Maria also explicitly stated that she will not settle for anything less than a parliamentary seat.
“I don’t want to create a three-cornered fight but I will only contest in parliamentary seats as the agenda that I am pushing for can only be implemented through parliament. It is either that or I won’t contest.”
When asked about the seat she hopes to contest, Maria replied that she will leave it to Pakatan’s leadership.
“I was made to understand that they will take some time (to decide) as they have yet to finish the seat allocation,” she said.
On why she chooses to side with Pakatan, Maria said it is because the pact’s manifesto is similar to Bersih’s agenda.
Replacing her at Bersih is her deputy Shahrul Mohd. Asri.