Over the past two months a dangerous trend has been silently emerging in the country's political scene.
These incidents have set off an alarm and, if not curbed, could lead to a disaster. Some 55 years ago, Malaysia’s colonial masters have predicted that race violence would ultimately result in the demise of this multiracial nation.
Sensing this dangerous trend, leaders from both sides of the divide have sounded warning bells, telling voters and supporters alike that violence was not the way to go.
PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang was the latest. A few days ago, the PAS chief issued a “amanat” (more or less a directive) to party members that the government in power must be brought down in a courteous manner.
“We Malaysians are known for our courteous manner. Putting leaders in and out of power must be done in a courteous manner and not in an embarrassing way,” he had said in issuing the “amanat”.
The very same day, Home Minister and Umno vice-president Hishammuddin Hussein issued a warning that the authorities would maintain peace and order at all costs should there be an attempt to create chaos during and after the next general election, slated to be held within the next six to eight months.
A week ago, Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin and former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad claimed that the opposition might cause problems if they lose the next general election.
The opposition, led by PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim, on the other hand, has alleged that it would be Umno that would start the fights if the party, which forms the backbone of the ruling BN, loses power.
Politics not everything
While the heat in the run-up to the polls is at an unprecedented level, political leaders must pay heed to one thing: Do not destroy the nation for your own political gains.
The rakyat have the right to live peacefully, no matter the outcome of the polls.
Leaders must realise that politics is not everything. Leaders are chosen to govern the nation and not to destroy it in the process of getting elected.
The election fever has reached a boiling point. It is over-heated. Calling for election and settling the doubt of who the voters want as their leaders, must be done quickly.
Letting the election fever reach greater heights by stalling on the imminent polls would only put more fear in the hearts of the rakyat and this is not good for BN or the opposition.
The violence displayed by both parties is only scaring away voters. This defies logic as political parties are supposed to be close to voters and not scare them away.
The spate of violent conduct has caused concern among the people, mainly voters.
Below are the incidents of violence over the past month or so at political rallies and ceramahs.
- May 24: Trouble erupted at an opposition ceramah in Lembah Pantai when party members were pelted with stones and eggs by some people, labelled as Umno members.
- On the same day, 11 cars were splashed with blue paint at an opposition ceramah in Kuala Kangsar, Perak.
- Also on May 24, about 30 people provoked PAS deputy president Mohd Sabu by throwing stones while he was speaking at a ceramah in Bangi.
- May 20: Two opposition state assemblymen in Malacca were heckled after an evening tea session with Bersih co-chairperson S Ambiga in Merlimau.
- May 11: About 30 members of Perkasa conducted a “funeral” in front of Penang chief minister’s residence to show their dissatisfaction over the running of the state.
- May 6: Pahang PKR headquarters is broken into by unknown people who destroyed computers at the office.
- May 2: Bloody clash between MIC Youth and PKR Indian wing in front of the Prime Minister’s office in Putrajaya. It resulted in two people being warded at hospital.
- April 19: Demonstrators calling for the abolishment of the PTPTN (study loan scheme) at Dataran Merdeka were attacked by some 30 people in the wee hours of the morning.
- April 3: A peaceful protest by Kampung Kerinchi flats residents was disrupted by unruly youths.
- March 26: The Pakatan Rakyat’s fourth year anniversary to celebrate ruling of Selangor was disrupted after about 30 youths hurled bottles and stones at the event held at an stadium in Kuala Selangor.
- Feb 26: A Pakatan Rakyat ceramah was disrupted after a person behaved unruly at the function in Gambang, Pahang.
- Feb 26: The Himpunan Hijau gathering in Penang heard vulgarities being hurled at Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng.
- Feb 19: More than 100 youths heckled Anwar at a ceramah in Sembrong, Johor.
These are just a few incidents that had taken place over the last couple of months. Many more are not reported. The police too seem to be dragging their feet in taking action against the perpetrators of the crime.
Police must be fair
The police must play their role effectively without fear or favour. Those who initiate violence in politics must face the music immediately.
This cancer violence must be operated upon before it destroys the country.
Although the incidents mentioned above are all against the opposition, the ruling BN also is not spared from violence, with incidents reported by the mainstream media.
While the election fever is reaching bursting point, political parties have also proven that they can check their members and supporters when the need arises.
Two shining examples are the Umno’s 66th anniversary celebration at the Bukit Jalil stadium which attracted some 90,000 members, and PAS’ Himpunan Hijau gathering in Alor Setar, Kedah, attended by nearly 80,000 members and supporters.
If these two big parties could hold rallies in a peaceful manner, why do we see the emergence of violence at smaller functions? Is it a prelude to events after the general elections?
For the sake of this beloved nation and its people, politicians should not burn this nation just to reach power or to hold on to it.