Long-time civil rights activist Maria Chin Abdullah has finally shown her "true nature" by offering herself as a Pakatan Harapan candidate for the upcoming elections, said Gerakan Youth chief Tan Keng Liang.
In a series of tweets today, Tan said Maria's move to politics showed that Bersih, which she had led since 2013, was an opposition tool all along.
"When you contest under Harapan, you are not an independent candidate. No cock and bull story, please.
"If you want to be an independent candidate, then don't contest as a Harapan candidate. Let us not hoodwink the people with all kinds of rhetoric.
"Evidently, Bersih is just a tool of the opposition," said Tan.
Earlier today, Maria (photo) announced that she has offered herself as an independent candidate for the Harapan coalition, but does not plan to join any of its four parties.
Tan, who has been a long-time vocal critic of Bersih, said Maria's leaning towards Harapan showed that many self-proclaimed independent groups were actually opposition proxies.
"There are many subsidiaries of the opposition in the guise of research centres, NGOs and independent bodies. Only takes time to reveal their true nature.
"Just look at their leaders' movement for the upcoming election," he said.
Maria was the second prominent civil society leader in a week to offer themselves as Harapan candidates, after Wan Saiful Wan Jan joined Bersatu.
Wan Saiful is well known for his column on policy matters in The Star, and has published research papers as part of his work with the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (Ideas).
'Deviated from struggle'
Meanwhile, Gerakan Youth legal bureau chairperson Chai Ko Thing questioned if the Bersih rallies served as a political stepping stone for Maria.
“Did Maria take advantage of the previous Bersih rallies to increase her popularity and prepare for the launching of her political career when GE14 is near?” asked Chai who is also Bukit Gasing assemblyperson.
He said while he respected her decision to enter politics, it was unfortunate that Bersih has deviated from its original struggle by venturing into politics.
“Maria's announcement that she will contest in the coming polls has thrown the impartiality of Bersih into question.
“Political ambition exhibited by current and former Bersih leaders will affect its credibility as a whole.
“It is ironic that while Bersih has always been critical of our electoral system, its leader has opted to join the fray instead of maintaining political neutrality to stay true to their cause,” he said in a statement.