KUALA LUMPUR: Enraged over a news article, People’s Progressive Party president M Kayveas and a group of his supporters ambushed Tamil vernacular daily, Malaysia Nanban’s office in Jalan Ipoh here this afternoon.
The blue T-shirt wearing mob was looking for the writer of an article who had called on Indians to demand for their rights since the ruling coalition had failed them.
The writer, who used a pseudonym, urged the Indian community to press both BN and Pakatan Rakyat to fulfill their demands on several issues such as education and eradicating crime ahead of the general election.
Six police patrol cars were deployed to the scene to contain the situation.
It is learnt that the entourage hurled obscenities at the Tamil newspaper’s staff and accused the editorial team of repeatedly painting Kayveas and PPP in a bad light.
It is also learnt that Kayveas’ group had manhandled a Malaysia Nanban journalist.
Unhappy with a critical article
Malaysia Nanban editor in chief, M Malayandy, when contacted by FMT, confirmed the incident and said Kayveas and his supporters had been harassing them since 3.30pm today.
“Kayveas, Kuala Lumpur PPP chief A Chandrakumanan and a group of 60 people were here demanding to meet our freelance writer since afternoon,” he said.
Malayandy said Kayveas and his supporters were unhappy with the article published by the newspaper yesterday, which they claimed was critical of the party.
“They want to know why we published the article. Basically the article was an overall review of all political parties.
“In one paragraph the writer stated that the PPP was giving the best service by providing free food for the people. The writer also questioned whether Indians would vote in favour of BN if free food was given to the people.
“I told Kayveas and the group that if they disagreed with the article, they can issue a rebuttal which we would publish. However they demanded in meeting with the writer,” said Malayandy.
Police at the scene
While a heated deliberation took place inside the newsroom – when at one point Kayveas and his group had allegedly ‘raided’ a senior editor’s office to demand answers, the police arrived at about 4pm after receiving a distress call.
Many of Kayveas’ supporters were also seen standing outside Malaysia Nanban’s office.
FMT also learnt that a Malaysia Nanban reporter was hurt when the mob barged into the office.
Crime reporter LK Raj said he was trying to shield his superiors when he was manhandled.
“I tried to shield my boss but they hit me on the head, punched my stomach and back,” said 36-year old reporter.
Kayveas: No ruckus, article insulting
Meanwhile, Kayveas disputed events leading to the incident.
“My supporters did not cause a ruckus at their office. No such thing. Right now, I’m in their office being served drinks and tidbits,” he said when contacted during the incident.
When asked why they were there, Kayveas said that it was because of an article published by the Tamil daily. He claimed that he was invited by the newspaper to discuss the article.
He said the article, penned by one known as Anniyan, had insulted PPP.
“But the article yesterday was too much. So we demanded to see the reporter and the editorial team to submit proof of their accusation. Unfortunately, we’ve waited here so long but the reporter is still missing,” said Kayveas.
Kayveas also said that he had not ruled out any legal action against Malaysia Nanban.
Addressing his supporters after leaving the daily’s office after almost three hours, Kayveas said that the daily’s management has agreed to publish an apology should they fail to produce evidence of their claims against PPP.
He also dismissed accusation that his supporters had assaulted a reporter.
“But I agree he may have been pushed around in the crowd. For that I apologise. If the perpetrator is a PPP member, then I will take action against the person,” said Kayveas.
Malaysia Nanban mulling legal action
However, reporter Raj insisted that Kayveas’ supporters did more than just pushing.
“I was punched and kicked on my head, back and legs. When I questioned them, they told me to shut up.
“One of them even threatened that I will go missing if I reported the matter to the police. But I’m going to report the matter anyway. I wonder if these were really PPP members or gangsters,” he said.
Meanwhile, Malaysia Nanban director Ahmad Mydin Sikandar Batcha said the harassment today would backfire on BN.
“Kayveas is a lawyer and a president of a political party. Is this BN’s version of press freedom?” asked a visibly shaken Ahmad Mydin, who added that he is mulling legal action against Kayveas and PPP.
The crowd finally dispersed at about 7pm.
PPP’s action today is surely set to embarrass BN and Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak who has been working hard to regain the lost Indian votes.