Civil society plays an essential role in ensuring that governments deliver on their public commitments and do so in a transparent and accountable manner. However, the relationship between NGOs, governments and opposition parties is always a complicated one.
Interestingly, many individuals from nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) made the decision to join (then) opposition parties and contest in the 12th General Election. Following the Pakatan Rakyat (Pakatan) coalition’s win in several state governments, these former civil society representatives are today elected representatives serving at the parliamentary, state or local council level, or have been absorbed into the political or state government system as aides and in numerous other roles.
This raises several questions. First, how did civil society fill in the gap left behind after these individuals chose to leave activism or advocacy to move directly into political or government positions? Second, what change in the role of civil society has there been?
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