KUCHING: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said the rioting in Kuala Terengganu on Saturday could be the opposition’s desperate attempt to gain political mileage in the once Pas-ruled state.
“Maybe they are under pressure because the Barisan Nasional government has developed this once laidback state. Nothing really happened during their time.
“Now they see that the state has developed in a short period and they are trying to do nasty things to tarnish the government and the police. This is their brand of politics,” Abdullah said.
The prime minister said he was saddened that Malaysians could be instigated to burn the Jalur Gemilang, which is a national symbol held in high esteem by the rakyat.
“Why burn the national flag, what did the Jalur Gemilang do to them? These things would not have happened if the organisers had respected the police and the laws of the country.
“But their intentions were different, they were well prepared to create a ruckus. That is why they came prepared with Molotov cocktails and other dangerous objects to attack the police. The riot was premeditated,” he said.
Abdullah, who is also Internal Security Minister, said police had not issued a permit for the gathering due to the venue’s proximity with the state palace and also after considering complaints from nearby residents.
He said the opposition was bent on tarnishing the country’s image and spoiling the rakyat’s Merdeka celebrations by portraying a negative picture of the government.
“Now they will go around claiming police brutality. This is a known campaign tactic that has been carried out many times before. They would provoke the police until stern action is taken and then they would cry foul.”
In the incident on Saturday, a riot broke out around 10.15pm after police attempted to disperse a crowd of 600 who turned up for a ceramah by Parti Keadilan Rakyat treasurer Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim and other opposition politicians in Jalan Sultan Mahmud, Batu Buruk.
Seven people, including four policemen, were injured in the ensuing clashes, including two who sustained gunshot wounds after a policeman opened fire in self-defence.
In Kuala Terengganu, the state Umno Youth wing said it would collaborate with non-governmental organisations to drum up a public petition protesting the burning of the Jalur Gemilang during the riot.
“It is unfortunate that there were those who turned traitors by burning the flag,” its information chief Razali Idris said.
Yesterday, Razali, representing the state Umno Youth wing, lodged a police report on the flag burning.
Relatives of the two rioters wounded by gunshots made separate reports at the Kuala Terengganu police station on Sunday.
In Kuala Lumpur, Pas deputy president Nasharuddin Mat Isa said the party would submit a memorandum to Bukit Aman and lodge a police report on the use of firearms in the incident.
NST: Kuala Terengganu riot ‘premeditated’