Monday, March 25, 2013

Hisham blames opposition provocation for rising political violence

MARCH 24, 2013
The Umno vice-president admitted that more incidents of violence were possible during the Election 2013 campaign period. — file picGOMBAK, March 24 — Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein admitted today that political violence in the country is worsening but accused the opposition of exploiting the situation to sow hatred towards the government and the police.
The home minister said that the federal opposition coalition Pakatan Rakyat (PR) was quick to allege the ruling party’s involvement in such incidents as well as accuse the police of bias when it purportedly refused to arrest the perpetrators.
“I see it getting worse and the way to deal with it (is for) all the relevant parties (to work together). I know the police has made plans to ensure the process of the general election goes through safely but the police on the ground is never enough.
“If they (opposition) want democracy and freedom, then why disrupt the process by making allegations like insulting the police and calling them names?
“Maybe, it is to create anger or provoke a reaction,” he said.
The Umno vice-president also admitted that more incidents of violence were possible during the Election 2013 campaign period due to the shortage of manpower in the police force.
He, however, promised that the authorities would do their best to prevent any untoward incidents from taking place during national polls which is expected to be held within weeks.
File photo of an anti-Anwar banner as seen during a recent by-election. — file picThe authorities have taken brickbats for its soft response to complaints of political violence allegedly perpetrated by Barisan Nasional (BN) supporters.
Rights groups and opposition leaders said police inaction have embolden the ruling coalition’s more extreme elements, who are suspected of being behind the recent escalation of violent attacks against PR leadership as polls near.
In a bid to counter the violence, polls reform group Bersih 2.0 said yesterday any Election 2013 candidate deemed responsible for violent incidents during political events will be “named and shamed” on social media sites like Twitter.
Group co-chairman Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan said the move was part of the group’s response to the failure by local authorities and national leaders to condemn and stop the recent escalation of political violence.
Ambiga said it had become standard practice by national leaders to absolve themselves from the violent conduct of their supporters despite agreeing to ethical conduct during elections.
BN chairman and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, along with leaders from BN component parties, recently signed Transparency International-Malaysia’s Election Integrity Pledge, 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.
If they (opposition) want democracy and freedom, then why disrupt the (general election) process by making allegations like insulting the police and calling them names? Maybe, it is to create anger or provoke a reaction. — Hishammuddin Hussein
At a press conference yesterday, Bersih listed several violent incidents that have taken place since January including physical assaults on opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in Johor where purported Umno members threw stones, woods and firecrackers.
At another incident in Pahang last month, Anwar’s daughter, Nurul Izzah, was almost physically assaulted by Umno supporters and 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 against the opposition, including a threat to torch PKR’s headquarters 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.
~ The Malaysian Insider

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