Sunday, 27 May 2012

Increasing campaign violence - The Malaysian Insider

MAY 27 — Here’s the dichotomy. Umno president Datuk Seri Najib Razak is working hard to get the people’s support. From anywhere in Malaysia to the O2 arena in London. But some of his followers are pelting their political foes with eggs and stones.

The case in point is Lembah Pantai where Umno leaders have accused Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim of provoking Thursday night’s violence during a PKR rally in Lembah Pantai, and said it should not be held responsible for the incident.

They have denied starting the ruckus. But Anwar only criticised them after the PKR ceramah was pelted with stones, eggs and water bottles, resulting in a “night of bloodshed” that saw at least two seriously injured.

“On that night, some of our own (Umno members) were also hurt. The provocation was started by Anwar, who called (Lembah Pantai) Umno Youth ‘sial, celaka’.

“You have to understand, when provoked... anything can happen,” Lembah Pantai Umno Youth chief Datuk Mohamad Sazali Kamilan told reporters.

But residents there say Sazali has failed to mention that Umno had hurriedly brought forward their “ceramah” by a day when they knew that PKR was having a major ceramah with Anwar and his daughter, party vice-president and Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah.

What are we to make of this? The Lembah Pantai violence is just the latest thuggish behaviour growing in the country that some say is due to Umno and the Barisan Nasional (BN) government encouraging these groups to be aggressive.

The cops? They cops are just standing by rather than enforcing the peace, say witnesses. Nurul Izzah herself says there is a mounting pile of police reports that have not been acted upon.

Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin has condemned the violence and denied that any instruction was given to Umno Youth members to disrupt the ceramah. But anecdotal evidence show that despite a lack of instruction, there have been disruptions in ceramahs conducted by their political opponents.

All the good work done by Najib, who intends to seek his personal mandate as prime minister, is being undermined by these groups who disrupt Pakatan Rakyat (PR) events. All the news and hype of his “1 Malaysia. People First. Performance Now.” in the mainstream media is being drowned by the reality that there are those who wreak havoc against PR.

So what good is campaign violence for those who favour Umno? How will that help the party shore up support and get Najib his two-thirds parliamentary majority? If anything, the rising violence shows desperateness among the lower ranks of Umno who have not worked as hard as Najib to get back the support of the people.

If Umno members and supporters wants to win the next general elections, it best follow Najib’s footsteps and reach out to people, not throw stones, eggs and water bottles or intimidate people.

You want to sell something, not force it down people’s throats. You want to win elections, not get it by nefarious means. Malaysians are all grown up and don’t fear such tactics. At this rate, those who use violence are doing Najib and Umno a huge disfavour. And those who condone such tactics are condemning the party to lose in the polls.

It’s your call. Be stupid and lose it all by going postal. Or be smart and charm the voters.

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