The Registrar of Societies (ROS) has summoned Bersih activist Maria Chin Abdullah and Malaysian Bar president Lim Chee Wee to assist with investigations into human rights NGO Suaram, much to their bewilderment as they are not involved with the group.
A steering-committee member of the electoral reform coalition Bersih, Maria (right) said the letter was sent to her office last Friday evening.
Lim received the letter today, when two officers came to his Skrine law firm.
Maria was not in at the time, so another letter was faxed to her house today.
Maria told Malaysiakini that she is not even a member of Suaram, although she supports the group's actions and activities.
The probe is apparently connected to a report originating from Muar, Johor, against Suaram.
"I am perplexed. I asked whether my name was mentioned in the report and they said ‘No'. I am not a Suaram member and I do not know why they require a statement from me," she said.
"I was only told by the ROS to attend the meeting scheduled for Wednesday. However, I have asked that it be postponed to Friday at their office in Putrajaya."
The letter is similar to the one received by Lim (left), which states that the investigations pertain to dissatisfaction of the complainant with Suaram.
Following this, ROS requires them to give their statements and their presence was necessary to assist in its investigations.
ROS cited Section 112 of the Criminal Procedure Code in summoning Maria and Lim to provide their statements.
Maria, who is also executive director of the NGO Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (Empower), said as far as she know, she is the only leader from the Bersih steering committee being asked by ROS to have her statement recorded on Suaram.
Lim to seek legal advice
In recent months, Suaram has come under intense pressure from the authorities, and a six-agency task force is investigating its status and activities from different aspects.
The NGO, or its vehicle Suara Inisiatif Sdn Bhd, has been the subject of an intense probe by ROS and Companies Commission of Malaysia after allegations surfaced that it receives foreign funding.
Suaram, which is also one of the many NGOs aligned with the Bersih grouping that is seeking electoral reforms, is the Malaysian complainant in the Scorpene submarine scandal currently being investigated by the French courts.
Lim also told Malaysiakini that he has told the ROS officer that he would seek legal advice as to whether he should attend the meeting fixed for Wednesday afternoon.
“I informed the officer that I will seek legal opinion on this matter before deciding,” he said, adding that just as Maria, he too was puzzled as to why the ROS was summoning him over a report lodged in Muar.
Lim had previously said there was nothing wrong with organisations receiving foreign funding as long as they complied with the law.
He said it was unfortunate that certain elements were questioning the motives and casting aspersions on foreign funding.
Even the Malaysian Bar, he had said, received foreign funding for specific projects.
ROS even summoned deceased politician
News came out last month that ROS had also required the presence of former DAP leader, the late Fan Yew Teng, to help in its probe into Suaram.
The problem is that Fan (right), although one of the founding members of Suaram, had died in 2010.
Also listed for investigation in the matter is Parti Sosialis Malaysia president Dr Nasir Hashim, who is one of the founding members of Suaram.
However, Nasir told Malaysiakini that the meeting with the ROS, which was supposed to be held today, was postponed as his lawyers' were could not be present.
“I was only briefly with Suaram and the ROS is requesting my statement,” Nasir said, adding he does not know when the next meeting with the ROS would be held.
ROS and CCM had earlier submitted their investigation papers on Suaram and Suara Inisiatif to the Attorney-General's Chambers for further consideration on the possibility of legal action being taken against Suaram.
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