Malaysian PM defends crackdown on protesters

Last Updated: Sunday, July 10, 2011 - 19:26

Kuala Lumpur: Facing criticism for police
crackdown on opposition-backed protesters in Malaysia, Prime
Minister Najib Razak on Sunday defended the government`s handling
of the demonstrations, saying "we dislike chaos".

Najib also accused opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim for
masterminding the protest to drum up support for his political
aspirations.

People came out in large numbers yesterday for the
opposition-backed rally to bring pressure on Najib`s long
ruling coalition to usher in electoral reforms and more
transparency ahead of national polls early next year.

Police fired tear gas and detained more than 1,600
people during the protest.

Addressing more than 6000 supporters here, Najib
lashed out at Anwar, saying he is prepared to sacrifice his
principles to achieve his dream of becoming prime minister.

He accused Anwar of masterminding the protest march
held by NGO Bersih 2.0, the opposition coalition and called
him an opportunist.

He described the Bersih (meaning clean in Malay
language) rally as a desperate plan by Anwar to manipulate the
people to gain their support.

Najib said Anwar`s position was affected by the
growing support of the people for the government following the
various economic development policies that had been
implemented.

"He knows that if he does not do anything, we (the
ruling coalition of Barisan Nasional) will win in the 13th
general election.

"This is the last chance for him. When people know
that this is their last chance, they will do everything, good
or bad," he said.

Najib dismissed claims of police brutality during the
protest and said police personnel had used minimum force when
acting against the demonstrators.

"We dislike chaos. We like peace. We like a country
where the people live in harmony," he said.

On reports that a person had died during the protests,
the Prime Minister said it had happened because of a
pre-existing medical condition.

Acting city police chief Amar Singh confirmed that
Baharuddin Ahmad, who was in his 50s, died after complaining
of chest pains.

The Prime Minister said Anwar deliberately wanted to
bring down the country`s image.

He appealed to all not to make demonstrations a part
of Malaysian culture.

"We are peace-loving citizens who want to live in
peace and harmony, and want to live in a country that has a
bright future," he said.

Najib said the police and the Attorney-General`s
Chambers will decide whether to press charges against
organisers of yesterday`s rally.

Meanwhile, Bersih 2.0 chief Ambiga Sreenevasan said
the movement will look into getting a Royal Commission of
Inquiry into electoral reforms.

As for the rally yesterday, she said it was mission
accomplished as the huge turnout "showed the people wanted a
clean election". Ambiga was among the more than 1600 who were
detained by police yesterday and later released.

Fellow Bersih committee member K Arumugam said the
group would make another attempt to hand over their memorandum
detailing their demands to the King at his palace.

Organsing protests and demonstrations is illegal in
Malaysia and any gathering of more than five persons in public
needs a police permit.

PTI



First Published: Sunday, July 10, 2011 - 19:26

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