Malaysia: Ambiga says Isma’s claim ‘mischievous’, will seek legal advice

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 11 — Prominent lawyer Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan said that Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (Isma)’s attempt to paint her as a “mastermind” behind a human rights coalition is “very mischievous”, saying that she will seek legal advice over the Islamist group’s claim.

When asked about Isma’s accusation, Ambiga clarified that she was not involved in the report prepared by Coalition of Malaysian NGOs in the Universal Periodic Review Process (Comango).

“I have nothing whatsoever to do with Comango report. Very mischievous,” the co-chairman of polls reform group Bersih replied in a text message to The Malay Mail Online.

“As to Isma, I am seeking legal advice as they have maligned me extensively by naming me in leaflets,” she added, referring to the flyers in which Isma had named her as one of the individuals behind Comango.

On Friday, Isma distributed 70,000 leaflets at mosques throughout the country after Friday prayers that slammed Comango for calling for the freedom to renounce Islam; the protection of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual (LGBT) rights; the removal of Malay privileges; the freedom to embrace Syiah teachings; and the right for Catholics to refer to God as “Allah”, among others.

The Islamist activist group also named Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir and several others as Comango’s masterminds, besides claiming that 54 “anti-Islam” non-government organisations supported the movement.

Last night, Marina demanded that Isma rescind its “defamatory” allegation linking her to Comango  or face legal action over the claim.

Marina, the eldest daughter of former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, described Isma’s allegation that she was one of the masterminds behind Comango as “wholly untrue”.

“Although I am a board member of Sisters in Islam, one of the NGOs in the coalition, I was not involved in any way in the Comango process.

“Therefore I view this allegation by Isma as defamatory and demand that Isma and its office bearers withdraw it immediately with a public clarification in all media, including social media, on my terms. Failure to do so will result in my taking legal action against them,” Marina wrote in a brief statement in reply to The Malay Mail Online’s query.

Marina also said the republication of Isma’s claims by news agencies was also “defamatory”, adding that legal action will be taken if they did not publish her clarification.

Isma has been at the forefront of attempts to discredit Comango, which has also come under fire from other Muslim activists here who claim the group’s human rights recommendations to the United Nations ran counter to the “true” teachings of Islam and the sovereignty of the Federal Constitution.

Isma, which has since signed on with a coalition of Muslim NGOs called MuslimUPRo, also accused Comango of attempting to spread “liberalism teachings” backed by Western powers.

Comango countered that their report was merely an effort to encourage Malaysia to prove its commitment towards improving the lot of all Malaysians via the UPR.