Sivarasa Rasiah

Sivarasa a/l Rasiah (Tamil: சிவராசா ராசையா, romanized: Civarācā rācaiyā; born 8 December 1956), or also known as R. Sivarasa is a Malaysian politician, lawyer and human rights activist of Ceylonese and Sri Lankan descent who served as the Deputy Minister of Rural Development in the Pakatan Harapan (PH) administration under former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and former Minister Rina Harun from July 2018 to the collapse of the PH administration in February 2020. He served as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Sungai Buloh from May 2018 to November 2022 and for Subang from March 2008 to May 2018. He is a member and former Vice-President of the People's Justice Party (PKR), a component party of the PH opposition coalition. He is co-founder of the Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM), a human rights non-governmental organisation (NGO).[1][2]

Sivarasa Rasiah
சிவராசா ராசையா
Deputy Minister of Rural Development
In office
2 July 2018  24 February 2020
MonarchsMuhammad V
Prime MinisterMahathir Mohamad
MinisterRina Harun
Preceded byAlexander Nanta Linggi
(Deputy Minister of Rural and Regional Development I)
Ahmad Jazlan Yaakub
(Deputy Minister of Rural and Regional Development II)
Succeeded byAbdul Rahman Mohamad
(Deputy Minister of Rural Development I)
Henry Sum Agong
(Deputy Minister of Rural Development II)
ConstituencySungai Buloh
Member of the Malaysian Parliament
for Sungai Buloh
In office
9 May 2018  19 November 2022
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byRamanan Ramakrishnan (PH–-PKR)
Majority26,634 (2018)
Member of the Malaysian Parliament
for Subang
In office
8 March 2008  9 May 2018
Preceded byK. S. Nijhar
Succeeded byPosition abolished
Majority6,709 (2008)
26,719 (2013)
Personal details
Sivarasa a/l Rasiah

(1956-12-08) 8 December 1956
Selangor, Federation of Malaya (now Malaysia)
Political partyPeople's Justice Party (PKR)
Other political
Pakatan Harapan (PH)
Pakatan Rakyat (PR)
Barisan Alternatif (BA)
SpouseAnne James
Alma materUniversity of Malaya
University of Oxford
OccupationPolitician, lawyer

Early life

Though today he may be one of the top and prominent lawyers in Kuala Lumpur, however, his first degree was actually in genetics. Reminiscing on his early days in an interview with the New Straits Times, Siva said, "I was trying to get into medicine after high school in Victoria Institution but didn't make the grade. Form Five was great but I guess in Form Six, there were many distractions. So instead I went into genetics in Universiti Malaya and graduated with first class honours. Six months into my Master's I realised that this was not my cup of tea and was already looking at other options.” He then applied for a Rhodes scholarship to pursue law at Oxford University. After completing his law degree and the Bar in Britain, Siva took a year off and went to Germany where he spent most of his time in libraries there reading. He worked for a bit after that in London before returning to Malaysia on his 30th birthday.

Activism and politics

Sivarasa Rasiah Community Service Center at Section 8 of Kota Damansara.

It was while he was in the United Kingdom that he got interested in human rights and "became involved with union workers and stuff like that there".

His first involvement with an NGO was in 1997 when he got involved with a women's group called Citizens Against Rape. Siva got arrested twice during the 1998 Reformasi period but shrugs it off as part and parcel of the job. He later joined PKR.

In the 2008 general election, Sivarasa was elected as the Member of Parliament for Subang, defeating his opponent by a 6,000 vote majority;[3] he went on to keep the seat in the 2013 general election.

In the 2018 general election, Sivarasa was reelected for his parliamentary seat which was renamed as Sungai Buloh in an earlier redelineation exercise.

Sivarasa was appointed Deputy Minister of Rural Development of Malaysia and sworn in on 2 July 2018 in the presence of His Majesty the Yang di Pertuan Agong of Malaysia.[4]

Personal life

He is married to Ann James, a personality in the Malaysian theatre scene. He met his wife at a demonstration as well. "It was during Operasi Lalang and she was there too. We were kind of thrown together and that's when it all happened. After a long courtship, we finally got married in 1993", he revealed in the NST interview.

Although Sivarasa has had brushes with the police, both his father and his older brother were members of the force; his father was the registrar of the police force and his older brother was a senior police officer.

This lawyer-cum-politician is a cancer survivor who lost his voice for almost a year due to thyroid cancer which damaged a nerve on his vocal cords. He had to speak with a little boom box and a speaker for a while due to this. He has regained his voice but he says, "I can't sing or shout, but at least I still can talk.”

He is also an avid guitar player.

Election results

Parliament of Malaysia[5][6][7]
Year Constituency Votes Pct Opponent(s) Votes Pct Ballots cast Majority Turnout
1999 P92 Ampang Jaya, Selangor Sivarasa K. Rasiah (PKR) 32,902 44.72% Ong Tee Keat (MCA) 40,669 55.28% 74,869 7,767 75.98%
2004 P105 Petaling Jaya Selatan, Selangor Sivarasa K. Rasiah (PKR) 13,638 27.42% Donald Lim Siang Chai (MCA) 35,054 70.48% 49,738 21,416 67.67%
2008 P107 Subang, Selangor Sivarasa K. Rasiah (PKR) 35,024 53.18% Murugesan Sinnandavar (MIC) 28,315 42.99% 65,861 6,709 78.02%
2013 Sivarasa K. Rasiah (PKR) 66,268 58.65% Pakas Rao Applanaidoo (MIC) 39,549 35.00% 112,937 26,719 87.86%
Mohamad Ismail (BERJASA) 4,454 3.94%
Nazaruddin Mohd Ferdoos (IND) 460 0.41%
Edros Abdullah (IND) 218 0.19%
2018 P107 Sungai Buloh, Selangor Sivarasa K. Rasiah (PKR) 43,631 55.97% Pakas Rao Applanaidoo (MIC) 16,681 21.40% 77,951 26,634 85.93%
Nuridah Mohd Salleh (PAS) 16,997 21.80%
Zainurizzaman bin Moharam (PRM) 642 0.82%

See all

  • Subang (federal constituency)
  • Sungai Buloh (federal constituency)


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