Mr Hishamuddin, who lived in self-exile abroad for several years, and Tan, who fled Singapore in 1976 after failing to report for national service enlistment and was stripped of his Singapore citizenship in 1987, belong to a group called Forces for the Renewal of Southeast Asia.
By the end of the day, you would know from all mainstream media that I met Tun Dr Mahathir for 1hr 20 minutes, together with Dr P J Thum, and three other Singaporeans.
Hisham and I presented our Peoples’ Charter for Southeaast Asia to Dr Mahathir.
PUTRAJAYA - Activists aiming to open up democratic space in South-east Asian countries met Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on Thursday (Aug 30) to invite him to open a conference next year on the issue.
The group, which included Malaysian political and social activist Hishamuddin Rais, fugitive and former Singapore student union leader Tan Wah Piow, academic Thum Ping Tjin, and three other Singaporeans whom Tan said did not want to be identified, met Tun Mahathir at the Perdana Leadership Foundation in Putrajaya.
Tan said after the 80-minute meeting that they discussed Pakatan Harapan's win at the May election, which he said "brought hope that change is possible in our lifetime through the ballot box".
"Personally, I am grateful for this open, democratic space that Tun Mahathir's government has now opened, and is now a beacon for many struggling for democracy not just in Singapore, but also in other parts of South-east Asia," he added.
Mr Hishamuddin, who initiated Thursday's meeting, said there was a need to manage and defend the success of what was achieved at the May general election.
"We see how People's Power in Manila ended in (Filipino president Rodrigo) Duterte's win. We saw in Indonesia there is government change, but not much change. In South-east Asia, NGOs and people see Malaysia as an example. We have to defend this... In the blink of an eye, it can be lost, as we have seen in the Philippines. The conference will talk about experiences in Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, the Philippines and Indonesia, so that Malaysians can learn from these," he added.
(extracted after tukar tiub)