Malaysiakini: Bullets killed 'feel good' factor

Yoges Palaniappan
Sep 10, 07 4:19pm

Barely 24 hours after the government unveiled a generous budget, the ‘feel good’ factor it spawned came to a premature death during a clash between the police and opposition supporters.

This was Opposition Leader Lim Kit Siang’s take on the violence which rocked Kuala Terengganu on Saturday night.

During the second reading of the Supply Bill 2008 in Parliament today, he said: “The feel good factor was crashed within 24 hours by the police who shot live bullets at a crowd assembled for a ceramah given by (election watchdog) Bersih.”
“All Malaysians, regardless of race, religion and skin colour are shocked with what happened on Saturday, especially with the mainstream media’s front-page coverage of the incident,” he said.
Lim (DAP-Ipoh Timur) also demanded to know how a peaceful ceramah degenerated into a violent confrontation.
“Who is going to be held responsible for what had happened- the organisers or the police?” asked the veteran politician.
“History has clearly shown that any official statement, be it from the police or other agencies, is always biased with twisted facts. We need to see if the police had abused their power and mishandled the situation,” he said, calling for a public inquiry.
The ceramah was organised by the watchdog to raise awareness for free and fair elections.
While the organisers claimed that they had obtained a permit to conduct the ceramah, the authorities have refuted this.
It was reported that the police had fired live bullets at the crowd, who were accused of going on a rampage, setting fire to vehicles. Two individuals suffered gunshot wounds while 23 others were arrested.
‘Organisers’ were wrong’
Meanwhile, Lim’s assertions angered several Barisan Nasional (BN) backbenchers who told the opposition leader not to defend the wrongdoers.
They said the riot would not have happened if the organisers had followed the rules set by the authorities.
Mohamad Aziz (BN-Sri Gading): We wouldn’t have seen the clash if the oganisers followed the rules. The police had never used force to stop any forums before this. Please stop defending those who have gone against the law and don’t blame the police.
The police gave them enough time to change the location of the forum but the organisers did not do that. So the police had to take the necessary action.
Ismail Yaakob (BN-Bera): The organisers chose a beach (Pantai Batu Buruk) as the venue for the forum. The place is not only frequented by tourists, but it is also near the palace.
The organisers ignored the police’s call for them to change the venue As such, the police had to take action.
On that note, Mohamad added: “Even BN does not conduct any forums in tourist spots The opposition is harping on this issue because the elections are nearing. The opposition does not have any new issues to focus on and that is why they are bringing up this issue.”
However, Lim refused to yield and argued that the opposition had no reason to politicise the clash.
“It (the ceramah) was not even organised by DAP or PAS, it was organised by a coalition of various organisations. And it was about free and fair elections,” he said.
“What we need to address here is, whether the clash was initiated by the organisers or the provocation by the police,” he added.