Malaysia

Things heating up in Penang as polls draw near

Teng with his police report at the Bukit Tengah police station in Penang yesterday. — Picture by K.E. OoiTeng with his police report at the Bukit Tengah police station in Penang yesterday. — Picture by K.E. OoiGEORGE TOWN, May 3 — Things are heating up as the polls draw near with a clash between political party supporters followed, a day later, by a threat in the form of a dead chicken delivered on the doorsteps of Penang Barisan Nasional chief Teng Chang Yeow’s election operations centre.

Since Nomination Day on April 20, a total of 18 suspects have been picked up by the police over different offences, from possessing weapons to causing mischief.

Yesterday, Teng received a threat warning him not to continue contesting or his family will be in danger.

The threat, written on a piece of paper, was placed inside a box with a dead chicken in it.

A man had knocked on the operations centre door and left the box before walking away at about 3pm, Teng said yesterday.

“I don’t want to speculate who is behind this but I want them to leave my family out of this,” said the Gerakan secretary-general who appeared visibly shaken by the threat.

He lodged a police report at the Bukit Tengah police station later and said that it could be the work of anyone, even those in BN who were unhappy about being dropped from the candidate list or his opponents or just someone unhappy with the party.

Two days ago, three men were injured when an altercation occurred between BN workers in a lorry and a group of PKR supporters on motorcycles.

According to Penang police general election spokesperson ACP Roslee Chik, about 18 people on 10 motorcycles were involved in the run-in when the lorry hit four of the motorcycles.

“Three motorcyclists were injured and one of them broke his right leg and has been hospitalised,” he said.

Following the accident, the lorry, which had stickers of the BN Seberang Jaya state seat candidate Datuk Mohammad Nasir Abdullah on it, sped off to Nasir’s operations centre at Lorong Tenggiri 7.

The rest of the motorcyclists went in pursuit and Roslee said they proceeded to smash the truck windscreen and windows with their helmets and metal rods at the operations centre.

So far, no arrest has been made but the driver of the lorry was tested positive for drugs and had previous criminal records.

“His licence has also expired since 2011,” Roslee said.

Suspects from both groups are expected to be arrested and charged once the police complete their investigations.

Roslee urged political parties to be more careful of who they hire as party workers and to check their backgrounds thoroughly first.

“All candidates of all political parties should check the background of their party workers before hiring them to do party work,” he said.

He said it was due to political parties hiring thugs to do party work that clashes and other criminal cases such as threats could surface during this campaign period.

“This is the time when gang leaders get their income as political parties will hire them to do work such as putting up flags and banners; so clashes will happen if one group encroach into another group’s territory,” Roslee said.

He said the police are closely monitoring these groups who are hired by both sides of the political divide.

“Two days ago, we arrested three men for being involved in a robbery case,” he said yesterday.

The case, though not political, involved a hawker who was paid to take part in one of the 1 Malaysia Welfare Club dinners.

“The suspects were believed to have robbed the hawker of the money he was paid to participate in the dinner,” he said, adding that he believed that the suspects are also members of a gang.

In the last two weeks, there have been several cases reported including an explosion in Nibong Tebal during a ceramah from an improvised device and a Chinese newspaper photographer being punched during a scuffle at another ceramah in Gelugor.

So far, only four of the 18 suspects arrested have been charged in court, two for having weapons in their possession and another two for issuing threats.

“We will be extra vigilant these few days as polling is so near now,” Roslee said.

 

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