by Shufiyan Shukur
The Malaysian Insider
16 July 2015
Umno and Barisan Nasional (BN) have to get used to the opposition’s presence in Pasir Gudang, Johor, said DAP and PKR politicians who were recently on the receiving end of harassment by people said to be Umno members.
DAP and PKR leaders today returned to the “hornet’s nest” of Taman Megah Ria in Pasir Gudang to distribute Hari Raya hampers to the needy, and were blocked at one point by a disgruntled bystander.
This was near the scene of a fracas on July 5, which saw several opposition politicians roughed up while attending a DAP event called “Forum Kedai Kopi”.
The bystander today took exception to PKR members who were carrying party flags near Pasar Borneo and tried to block their way as they were walking towards a coffee shop to hold a press conference.
Policemen accompanying the group today moved the bystander aside while the entourage carried on to the coffee shop without any further incidents.
There was clearly some tension throughout the walk, with the PKR members walking straight through without stopping by the stalls for the usual requisite photo-op handshakes with stall operators and shoppers.
During the press conference, Syed Othman Syed Abdullah, PAS’s former Permas Jaya candidate who was assaulted at the July 5 DAP event, took issue with two people present, demanding that they leave if they were not from media.
“This is for media only. If you are not media, please leave,” he demanded.
He declined to elaborate about his outburst but said he knew who the people were.
PKR Johor chief Hassan Karim later said that Pasir Gudang was a “sensitive” area for Umno.
In the 13th general election in May 2013, PKR’s Ahmad Faidhi bin Saidi lost by a slim margin of 935 votes or 1.1% to Umno’s Normala Abdul Samad.
“We’ve had no problems in other areas when we carry out our activities, but this is Pasir Gudang and at the last general election we lost by a very slim margin,” said Hassan.
Syed Othman agreed, saying that overall, while harassment of opposition members was rare, it happened when senior party leaders were visiting and had occurred more frequently during the general election campaign.
“This is a Malay-majority area and most Malays here are factory workers with salaries below RM2,000 per month, so you can gauge the mentality.
“But if their leaders tell them to not behave aggressively, then I believe they will not, but these leaders keep quiet when things like this happen.
“And this is giving tacit support to their bullying,” Syed Othman added.
DAP Johor chief Liew Chin Tong agreed that acts of aggression and bullying were isolated incidences.
“I personally have had only two other bad experiences before July 5.
“I was refused entry at a Ramadhan bazaar in my own constituency of Kluang last year and the previous year when I was prevented from attending a Deepavali event,” said Liew.
At the July 5 event, Liew was physically assaulted by a man who put his hands around his neck and tried to choke him.
“Umno and BN have got to get used to our presence. We are going to do more programmes in Johor and this is our commitment to our constituents. No amount of bullying will stop us,” Liew said. – July 16, 2015.