MEDIA STATEMENT (25 May 2014)
Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections 2.0 (BERSIH 2.0) warns that democracy and civility in Malaysia are under attack when political violence attacking state legislature and opposition office by thugs affiliated to the dominant party UMNO is justified by Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.
BERSIH 2.0 warns that Malaysia will become a failed state if the serial attacks by thugs related to UMNO Youth at three cities in the three consecutive days, continue.
BERSIH 2.0 warns that, Muhyiddin must bear full responsibility for fuelling the fire if the political violence spreads and escalates.
His statement that the thugs were merely defending the party’s honour, coupled with the light attitude taken by Police, has raised questions if there are deliberate moves to destabilise the country and Najib Razak’s premiership.
BERSIH 2.0 also demands IGP Khalid Abu Bakar to step down if the fourth attack happens. In such unfortunate development, Malaysia will need a new IGP to restore the public’s and investors’ confidence in the country’s stability. Malaysia cannot afford to be seen as going the way of Thailand.
The first incident took place on May 21, as thugs representing UMNO Youth violently barged into the Penang State Assembly and threatened the safety of lawmakers.
On the next day, another group of UMNO Youth members demonstrated violently at the national headquarters of the Democratic Action Party (DAP), intimidating the opposition’s officials and even threatening to burn down the building.
On the third day, a group claiming to be representing UMNO Youth and Malay NGOs attacked the DAP office in Kuantan, damaging its front door.
The Police adopted a wait-and-see attitude in the Kuala Lumpur and Kuantan incidents.
BERSIH 2.0 solemnly reminds Muhyiddin that his defence that UMNO Youth demonstrated only to defend the party’s honour completely does not befit his capacity as the Deputy Prime Minister. While gangsters may resort to violence to defend their honours, politicians must never do.
UMNO has blamed the protests entirely on a DAP Penang state lawmaker Rayer for uttering an offensive phrase “UMNO Celaka” (Damned UMNO!) in his criticism of an UMNO-backed protest in March that blamed DAP for the 1969 May 13 ethnic riot and threatened a repetition.
BERSIH 2.0 holds that civilised politics has no room for political violence. UMNO has every right to protest against Rayer’s choice of words but it must remain civil as use of violence will only reduce politics to gangsterism.
All right-thinking Malaysians must reject this political culture of gangsterism before it descends further until our democracy is destroyed through threats and violence. Bersih 2.0 calls on all peace-loving Malaysians to voice their displeasure by asking for Muhyiddin to retract and apologise for what he said. We must also demand for decisive actions by the police force against any form of political violence or threats, without fear or favour.
For Malaysians who have the opportunity to vote during by-elections, they can also show their disapproval through the ballot box by voting against parties and individuals who condone such thuggish behaviours. A clear message must be sent to politicians who think they can intimidate opponents and get away with it.
Issued by: The Steering Committee of BERSIH 2.0, which comprises:
Maria Chin Abdullah (Chairperson), Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa (Deputy Chairperson), Masjaliza Hamzah (Treasurer), Farhana Abdul Halim, New Sin Yew, Jannie Lasimbang (Sabah Vice-chair), Ahmad b. Awang Ali (Sarawak Vice-chair), Abd Halim b. Wan Ismail (East Peninsula Vice-chair), Thomas Fann (South Peninsula Vice-chair), Simon Lee Ying Wai (Central Peninsula Vice-chair) and Dato’ Dr Toh Kin Woon (North Peninsula Vice-chair).