BERITA DAILY LETTER: From Charles Santiago, via e-mail

If we had cared to notice, we would realise a significant change in the role played by the civil society in recent years. It’s representatives now take on pivotal, diverse and vibrant roles to support national, regional and global governance.

The next general election is crucial for all Malaysians and it’s a key area where activists, such as Maria Chin Abdullah, can make a stand.

The fact that Maria resigned as the electoral watchdog Bersih’s chairperson shows integrity and she would have a better leverage of power as an elected representative to fight for electoral reforms in the country.

We have heard vehement criticisms against her and Bersih since she announced her political candidacy. Some labelled her as an Opposition stooge, while others question Bersih’s impartiality.

But such views are simplistic – Bersih is not personality-driven and has not given up on its struggle for free and fair elections in the country.

Neither has Maria. And it’s naive to assume she would give the Opposition a free ride if we come to power.

Maria has made it clear that she would only contest if Pakatan Harapan gives her a parliament seat so that she can continue to push the reform agenda and change the narrative in parliament with high quality debates.

And she will contest as an independent Pakatan candidate and not join any of the Opposition coalition’s parties to ensure that she has the independence to keep to her agenda.

As such the brouhaha from ruling politicians and their allies are totally unnecessary.

Or maybe they are just terrified that she would actually win. And the demand for free and fair elections will get much stronger with her presence in parliament.

Charles Santiago is the MP for Klang