KUALA LUMPUR, March 25 — Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan has urged Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein to censure Umno supporters for threatening to kill PKR’s Chua Tian Chang, or risk being blacklisted by polls watchdog Bersih 2.0 for condoning political violence.
Party workers 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, better known as Tian Chua, whose allies in Pakatan Rakyat (PR) have been accused of instigating the Sulu invasion of Sabah.
“He (Hishammuddin) should come out and make amends and put things right, and confirm that he does not support the crowd’s response,” Ambiga (picture)told The Malaysian Insider today.
“He should come out strongly against political violence of any sort... failing which, he will go on our list of politicians who encourage political violence,” said the Bersih co-chairman.
Ambiga said last Saturday that any Election 2013 candidate deemed responsible for violent incidents during political events would be “named and shamed” by Bersih 2.0 on social media sites like Twitter.
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.
Ambiga said today that Hishammuddin should have stopped the crowd immediately when they threatened Tian Chua, pointing out that the Umno vice-president had control over his party supporters.
“It is intimidation. When it’s a threat to kill, that is an offence under section 503 of the Penal Code that deals with criminal intimidation. He, above all people, should know that,” said the former Bar Council president.
“This goes for all those who are out there campaigning, speaking to their supporters. They have to make it very clear they will not countenance any form of violence or violent behaviour. I expect those who are running for the elections to behave like leaders and to set the right example,” added Ambiga.
The lawyer also called on Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to condemn the kill threat against Tian Chua, pointing out that Najib had pledged ethical conduct in Election 2013.
“This is all part of ethical conduct in campaigning. It’s important for a statement to be made that all those who are campaigning must do so responsibly and ethically,” said Ambiga.
The prominent lawyer said last Saturday that 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.
Najib, 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.
~ The Malaysian Insider