Ambiga quizzed over funding

KUALA LUMPUR: Police have recorded the statement of Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan (pic) over links to the Open Society Institute (OSI), which is part of the Open Society Foundations (OSF) founded by American hedge fund billionaire George Soros.

The former Bersih chairman was questioned for about an hour yesterday after she arrived at about 11am at Bukit Aman accompanied by lawyer N. Surendran.

“I only know that I was called in as the former Bersih chairman for matters relating to funding and OSI,” she said.

Ambiga, who was Bersih 2.0 chairman from 2010 until 2013, said she was being investigated under Section 124C of the Penal Code for activities detrimental to parliamentary democracy.

“They keep alleging that we want to topple the Government. Just to be clear, our main demand is fair and free elections. We would be mad to do something like that,” she told reporters outside the police headquarters.

Ambiga said the funding for Bersih 2.0 was the focus of the investigation and the issue was not new and had been raised before in 2012.

She said they had taken an English-language newspaper to court over the allegations then, and the publication had apologised.

Ambiga added that Bersih had always been transparent about its funding.

“We have always made it clear that Bersih 2.0 received US$25,000 in funds from OSI in 2011 and US$9,690 from the National Demo­cracy Institute (NDI).

“Both sums were used in election-related projects and neither OSI nor NDI are banned by the Government,” she said.

Ambiga also claimed that the authorities were afraid of NGOs.

“I think they got scared when they know that people support what we are doing. In my view, this is what the investigations are all about,” she said.

Meanwhile, several other NGO leaders were also called up for questioning by Bukit Aman yesterday.

Among them were Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (Empower) secretary Pook Li Yoon and finance officer Leong Mei Yun as well as activist Wong Chin Huat.

Police on Nov 28 raided the NGO’s office at Section 4, Petaling Jaya.

The NGO, which served as Bersih 2.0’s secre­tariat until 2015, was forced to hand over copies of its financial records from 2013 to 2016.

On Nov 18, police raided Bersih 2.0 office in a similar manner, detaining Maria Chin Abdullah and the NGO’s secretariat officer Mandeep Singh.

Maria, who is Bersih 2.0 chairman, was detained under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 and was released on Nov 28.

She is former executive director of Empo­wer.

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