Politicians and unionists against NGOs taking part in polls


  • Nation
  • Sunday, 18 May 2003

KUALA LUMPUR: Political parties and union leaders continued to oppose the idea of letting non-governmental organisations (NGOs) contest in elections without changing the identities of their organisations. 

Gerakan secretary-general Chia Kwang Chye said it was “not appropriate” for NGOs to participate in a general election. 

“Political parties have to look at a whole spectrum of issues, including economic and social development, and deal with a general range of objectives, whereas NGOs only focus on certain and specific issues,” Chia said. 

Chia, speaking at a press briefing at Menara PGRM on Gerakan's upcoming 35th anniversary celebrations, urged NGO members to either join a political party or run as independent candidates if they wanted to contest for a political post, saying that having NGOs in elections would only create confusion in the electoral process. 

Cuepacs president Datuk N. Siva Subramaniam agreed that leaders of NGOs should not be involved in politics because their mandate lies primarily with the organisation that appointed them. 

He said there had been cases in the past where certain union and NGO leaders had had misconceptions that their popularity and status within their respective unions would serve and benefit them equally well in the political arena. 

“There is no substantial reason why NGO leaders should be supported once they enter the political arena. It is not proper for NGOs to participate in politics because they have their own concerns and separate causes to focus on,” said Siva Subramaniam.  

Deputy chairman of the Wanita MCA Federal Territory strategic bureau Tai Sim Yew stated that NGOs should not be seen to have political interests and leanings but should, on the contrary, adopt a neutral stance on all issues pertaining to the objectives of their respective organisations and ideals which they stood for.  

In a statement, Tai added that it would not be in the best interest of society for NGOs to get involved in politics as it “tends to run contrary to the essence of their formation and establishment in the first place.”  

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