Kit Siang: Dr M’s claim justifies scrapping Putrajaya’s Bersih panel
KUALA LUMPUR, May 27 — Tun Dr Mahathir’s Mohamad’s warning that Bersih 3.0 was a “warm-up” to more street violence should Pakatan Rakyat (PR) lose the next polls justifies the abolition of Putrajaya’s independent panel for the April 28 rally, Lim Kit Siang said today.
The DAP parliamentary leader said this was because the former prime minister’s allegation was the fifth evidence of a government-led campaign to demonise the electoral reforms movement Bersih and the federal opposition.
The “campaign”, added the senior politician, had begun with the prime minister, the home minister and two former Inspector-Generals of Police.
“What they have done is to collectively stack grounds to justify the case why the Hanif ‘independent advisory panel’ should be scrapped altogether,” Lim (picture) said in a statement today.
“Nobody expects (former Inspector-General) Tun Hanif Omar’s panel to be able to be independent, impartial and objective when there is the highest-level involvement in the campaign of vilification and demonisation of Bersih 3.0 and Pakatan Rakyat.”
Last Sunday, former police chief Tan Sri Abdul Rahim Mohd Noor had alleged that Bersih used “Marxist” tactics and PR was inciting bloodshed at the April 28 rally.
Home minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein has also said that there were those at the planned sit-in who “wanted deaths,” a statement backed by police who have uploaded a clip on video-sharing site YouTube they claim is proof of the allegation.
Meanwhile, prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has claimed that that the rally was an attempt by the opposition to topple the government and its real purpose was to “fight, kick and strip the police.”
Lim said today that Dr Mahathir as well as Najib, Hishammuddin and Rahim should be required to appear as “star witnesses” in the probe to substantiate their “preposterous allegations”.
“If the five - Najib, Mahathir, Hishammuddin, Hanif and Rahim Noor — are unable to produce any evidence to substantiate their allegations against Bersih 3.0 and Pakatan Rakyat, then these five VVIPs should have the decency to publicly retract their preposterous allegations and tender public apologies,” he said.
Lim also questioned whether by making such allegations on his blog, Dr Mahathir was suggesting his daughter, Marina Mahathir, who had taken part in the rally for free and fair elections, was “naive to be a pawn of Bersih 3.0 and PR to topple the Najib government by violence.”
“Mahathir should be commending Marina for her commendable public-spiritedness and patriotism in participating in both Bersih 3.0 on April 28 and Bersih 2.0 on July 9, 2011 instead of throwing brickbats at her and Malaysians who had rallied to the Bersih cause,” said Lim.
Najib’s choice of the former Inspector-General of Police to head the panel came under immediate fire from the opposition and calls are growing for Hanif, who led the police for two decades since 1974, to recuse himself after the latter had agreed with the prime minister’s claim that Bersih 3.0 was an attempt to overthrow the government and even claimed that communist sympathisers were involved in the event.
The April 28 rally, which saw tens of thousands gather at six different locations before heading to Dataran Merdeka, was peaceful until about 2.30pm when Bersih chief Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan asked the crowd to disperse.
But her call was not heard by most of the crowd who persisted around the historic square which the court had already barred to the public over the weekend.
Just before 3pm, some protestors breached the barricade surrounding the landmark, leading police to disperse the crowd with tear gas and water cannons.
Police then continued to pursue the rally-goers down several streets amid chaotic scenes which saw violence from both sides over the next four hours.
Several dozen demonstrators have claimed that they were assaulted by groups of over 10 policemen at a time and visual evidence appears to back their claim but police also point to violence from rally-goers who also attacked a police car.
The police car then crashed into a building before some protestors flipped it on its side.