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Anwar injured, July 9 black eye for Najib

 | July 9, 2011

The opposition leader was injured when the police fired tear gas. And observers warn Najib of electoral repercussions.

KUALA LUMPUR: Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim and several Pakatan Rakyat leaders were injured when the police fired tear gas at the group of Bersih 2.0 supporters that they were leading.

PAS Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad, who was also hurt, said he was hit by the tear gas cannisters launched by the Federal Reserve Unit (FRU).

Contacted later, Anwar’s daughter Nurul Izzah said her father had fallen on his head and was currently undergoing a CT scan at the Pantai Hospital.

“He is in good spirits,” added the PKR vice-president and Lembah Pantai MP.

In a photograph taken after the incident, Anwar was seen to be reeling in pain while his bodyguard’s shirt was soaked in blood.

On the streets, Bersih 2.0 supporters, at various locations, were refusing to disperse despite the arrests of several key leaders, including the coalition’s chairperson Ambiga Sreenevasan.

The repeated firing of tear gas and chemical-laced water had failed to dampen their spirit.

Bersih 2.0 had initially planned to hold a rally at the iconic Stadium Merdeka and later submit a memorandum to the King on its demand for electoral reforms.

Victory under climate of fear

Political observers acknowledged that the Bersih protest was a victory for both the coalition, which claims to be independent, and the opposition.

Although the numbers fell way below the 300,000 target, the observers said the fact that more than 15,000 people had come out under a “climate of fear” sent a strong signal to the government.

The observers said Malaysians generally preferred to register their protest via the ballot box instead of taking to the streets, and the prevailing sentiment now was in favour of the opposition.

The Bersih rally, they added, might have also foiled Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s plan to hold a snap polls to consolidate his position.

“Demonising those seeking free and fair elections is a farce. Attempting to give the call for a just electoral process a racial slant has backfired on the powers-that-be.

“Najib shot himself in the foot as far as contradictory remarks are concerned, especially from Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein with regard to Bersih meeting the King and not allowing them to use Stadium Merdeka despite an earlier promise to allow an indoor rally.

“Malaysians are watching this comedy of errors. While strong-arm tactics may thwart big numbers at rallies, it is merely an interim measure. The long-term repercussions will be reflected in the next polls,” noted an observer, who declined to be named.

Also conspicously absent from today’s rally were the members of the Silat Lincah organisation, whose leader had vowed to wage war against the Bersih supporters.

Observers also pointed out that while July 9 had turned out to be a victory for Bersih and those aligned to it, the day had been a disaster for Perkasa and its chief Ibrahim Ali.

There was hardly a whimper from the Malay supremacist movement despite Ibrahim’s verbal tirades over the weeks.

FMT photo gallery on Bersih 2.0 rally


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