PETALING JAYA: President Barack Obama met up with several leaders from Malaysian civil society movements at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Kuala Lumpur where he is staying.
The meeting stretched for close to an hour although it was earlier thought to be a 15-minute talk.
Coalition for Free and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0) chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah said the 50-minute meeting yesterday discussed several key national issues such as human rights abuse and electoral reforms.
“It was a relaxing discussion. The President was attentive and listened to our grouses intently,” she said when contacted after the meeting.
Maria said each representative presented their issues as well as their key findings to the President.
She said Obama also expressed his awareness on several issues such as violations in the rule of law and religious extremism – pledging to raise them if the opportunity arose.
“I believe he has a better understanding now that we have explained our findings on the last general election through the people’s tribunal,” she added.
Maria said among the individuals who attended the meeting included Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor’s (Empower) Honey Tan; Islamic Renaissance Front chairman Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa, Malaysian Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) chairman Tan Sri Hasmy Agam and Council of Churches of Malaysia (CCM) general secretary Rev Dr Hermen Shastri.
Others were Sisters in Islam member Ratna Osman and prominent lawyer, Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan who represented the Malaysian Human Rights Society (Hakam).
Ambiga said the meeting was fruitful.
“We raised all the human rights issues that we could in that time for example on religious and racial polarisation, divisive politics, free and fair elections , political persecution including Anwar’s case and the cases against the Opposition under the sedition Act and the PAA, media control by the Government and a host of other issues,” she said.