PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim's public rally last night in Kuching, his first in Sarawak since the dissolution of the state legislative assembly, was cut short due to police disruption.
According to See Hua Daily News, police tried to stop the rally, outside a coffeeshop at Jalan Padungan, even before Anwar arrived.
Kuching district police chief Mun Kok Keong had tried to stop the rally on the grounds that no permit was issued and the event was disrupting traffic.
Mun later seized the microphone when Kuala Sepetang state assemblyperson and former Perak exco member Tai Sing Ng was speaking and demanded the latter's Mykad.
After intense negotiations with Padungan state assemblyperson Dominique Ng, the event organisers agreed to hold the event inside the coffee shop without the use of microphones.
Only a fraction of the crowd managed to squeeze into the coffee shop with the rest, numbering in the hundreds, standing outside. See Hua Daily News reported the total crowd figure at 800.
Eventually, Ng managed to address the crowd, many sweating due to the cramped conditions, for about 20 minutes before Anwar finally arrived.
Ng: Police overreacted
Commenting on the incident, Ng said the police overreacted yesterday and should not have deployed riot police as there was obviously no security threat posed by the event.
“We are unlike (Peninsular) Malaysia where sometimes the crowd is a bit more boisterous. In Sarawak, political events are carried out with restraint and good manners. There was no need for the police to be alarmed,” he said.
Ng said the police had also claimed that the application for a permit for a public assembly was denied because they were not given two weeks' notice.
“The campaign period is just 10 days. How do we give them two weeks notice? They set all kinds of conditions and make it difficult for us,” said Ng.
He also lashed out at the police for demanding to see Tai's identity document and treating him as a suspect in a crime, adding that this sort of treatment would not be accorded to a former exco member from BN.
The event yesterday was also to mark PKR's 12th anniversary in Sarawak.
“We even had a birthday cake for the event. Are birthday parties now illegal activities?” he asked.
Anwar: Vote for clean government
Meanwhile, United Daily News reported that Anwar, in his speech, urged Sarawakians to support Pakatan Rakyat as the next state government to ensure equality and a clean government.
“We will fight for the rights of the Sarawakians and ensure that the agreements for the state's autonomy are fulfilled,” he said.
Anwar urged Sarawakians to look at Pakatan's success in ruling Penang and Selangor, which had recorded the highest amount in foreign investments among Malaysia's 13 states, while much of Sarawak languished in poverty.
He said that, should Pakatan rule Sarawak, it would put an end to crony politics.
Ng, in his speech, said he had spent 30 years serving the people of Padungan and he would die in the constituency.
“I won't leave Padungan even if you kill me,” thundered Ng.