December 30th, 2009 by Press Office
MalaysiaKini carried news of my statement criticising Registrar of Societies (ROS) Mohd Alias for threatening to ban Sahabat Alam Malaysia. His irresponsible statement only fuels public perception that the ROS is once again allowing itself to be used as a tool of Barisan Nasional to block or impede the formation of societies, organisations and political parties which it deems undesirable.
Dec 29, 09 5:15pm
Dismayed that it has been wrongly blamed, Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) today slammed the Register of Societies (ROS) for hurling baseless accusations against the environmental group.
“It is unfair of the ROS to do that. How could they make such biased assumptions?” said SAM committee member Mohd Azmi Abdul Hamid in a statement today.
ROS chief Mohd Alias Kalilw told reporters in Miri yesterday that SAM can be deregistered as an NGO if there is proof that it is involved in activities which threaten the nation’s interests.
However, he conceded that the ROS office had yet to receive an official complaint against SAM which had been actively involved in campaigns against commercial logging, plantation development and dam-building.
Most of these activities have affected the livelihood of the indigenous peoples living in the rainforests.
The ROS chief added that more information was required before they could take action against the 30-year-old organisation.
Expressing disappointment that the ROS had made such prejudiced remarks, Mohd Azmi described ROS as “irresponsible and unprofessional”.
“Was there anything that we have done that was against the law? The ROS did not think objectively but instead cast aspersion on us by making unfounded claims.
“Even though SAM might not have seen eye to eye with the government in the past, Mohd Alias should not make wild allegations,” he decried.
SAM not ‘extreme’
It is none of ROS’ business to question environmental issues raised by SAM, argued Mohd Azmi.
“These issues should be addressed by the government itself and not the ROS. So why then is the ROS blaming SAM for threatening national interests?
“In what way are we undermining national interest when we criticise industries for breaking the country’s environmental law?” he questioned.
Mohd Alias also gave an assurance yesterday that the ROS would closely monitor SAM and other NGOs which “acted extremely” in fighting for their causes.
To this, Mohd Azmi said: “This is too much. Why did he not define the meaning of ‘acting extremely’? He also did not give solid details on what we have done that was deemed to be ‘extreme’”.
ROS slammed for being a BN tool
Meanwhile, a DAP leader has accused ROS of being a Barisan Nasional tool.
Selangor senior exco and Seputeh parliamentarian Teresa Kok described Mohd Alias’ threat to ban SAM while conceding that he had yet to receive any official complaint on the matter as “ridiculous”.
“His irresponsible statement only fuels public perception that the ROS is once again allowing itself to be used as a tool of BN to block or impede the formation of societies, organisations and political parties which it deems undesirable.”
Kok commented NGOs for playing a “vital role in fostering a healthy democracy in Malaysia”.
“In the case of SAM, they have been actively promoting the conservation of our rainforests and mangrove swamps by creating awareness among Malaysians who then vote for better leaders, participate in decision-making and hold the government more accountable to the people.
“Therefore, until Mohd Alias reveals any evidence that SAM is involved in activities which actually threaten the nation’s interest, he should retract his absurd threat and publicly apologise to SAM immediately.”
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