By Syed Jaymal Zahiid
The Malaysian Insider
Mar 26, 2013
PETALING JAYA, March 26 — Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein’s recent remarks that he expects more disruption of opposition events soon is tantamount to endorsing political violence, Pakatan Rakyat (PR) leaders alleged today.
The federal opposition coalition said that since the home minister had failed to give his assurance that the authorities will do its bit to protect them, PR is bracing for more political violence prior to and during Election 2013.
“The politics of slander and violence is definitely on the rise and we the leadership of PR is bracing for this,” Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim told reporters after chairing the pact’s leaders council meeting at PKR’s headquarters here.
Anwar, the de facto leader of PR’s anchor party PKR, said the anticipation comes amid the pact’s preparation to launch its polls campaign nationwide.
Speaking at the same press conference, DAP stalwart Lim Kit Siang blasted Hishammuddin’s statement as unbecoming of a minister tasked to protect internal security.
“This will make it the dirtiest elections. This trend must be checked and stopped. We are becoming the laughing stock of the world,” Lim said.
The Ipoh Timur lawmaker added that Hishammuddin had also indirectly supported violence against the opposition by inciting hatred among government supporters in his speech on Sunday.
Party workers had shouted “Kill Tian Chua” when the Umno vice-president urged them to rally behind Barisan Nasional (BN) and “eliminate traitors” like PKR vice-president Chua Tian Chang, better known as Tian Chua, whose allies in Pakatan Rakyat (PR) have been accused of instigating the Sulu invasion of Sabah.
Hishammuddin admitted yesterday that political violence in the country was worsening, but accused PR of exploiting the situation to sow hatred for the government and the police.
He also noted that more incidents of violence might occur during the campaign period of Election 2013, which is expected to be held in weeks, due to the shortage of policemen.
His statement drew flak from poll reform group Bersih 2.0 who urged the minister to censure Umno supporters for the threat or risk being blacklisted by polls watchdog Bersih 2.0 for condoning political violence.
PAS deputy president Mohamad Sabu echoed Lim’s view that Hishammuddin as a minister should adopt a non-partisan stand against political violence.
“But instead he said we should expect more violence,” he said.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, along with leaders from BN component parties, signed Transparency International-Malaysia’s Election Integrity Pledge last month in a move they claimed displayed their seriousness in playing fair in the upcoming polls.
But Najib and his coalition have come under heavy fire for their muted response to several violent attacks on the opposition, allegedly perpetrated by BN supporters or members of hardline groups linked to Umno, the ruling coalition’s Malay lynchpin.
Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s tour in Johor was attacked with nails and stones last September.
At another incident in Pahang last month, Anwar’s daughter, Nurul Izzah, was almost physically assaulted by Umno supporters. Although her supporters managed to prevent it, the PKR vice-president continued to be verbally abused.
On March 12, suspected Umno members were again implicated in a violent attack on the opposition, including a threat to torch PKR’s headquarters in Petaling Jaya just days after the party’s leadership alleged assault by BN supporters in Malacca.
Members from right-wing groups pelted rocks, sticks and traffic cones on the PKR building. A few torched the party’s flag. The incident took place under police observation. No action, however, was taken.