Umno-linked NGOs carried out a violent demonstration at the PKR headquarters in Tropicana, Petaling Jaya on Monday, demanding that Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim and vice president Tian Chua apologize and admit their alleged roles in the Lahad Datu intrusion.
The 3 NGOs were JMM or Pertunuhan Jaringan Melayu Malaysia, Waris Malaya and TIBAI.
At 5pm, shouting anti-Anwar slogans and singing the BN standard, ‘ini lah Barisan kita’, they marched from the corner coffee-shop to the PKR headquarters just a few shop-lots away.
They then demanded that Anwar come down if he was “anak jantan” (man enough) and answer their claims that he had master-minded the intrusion, for which the Najib administration has been caught badly wrong-footed and heavily criticized for being slow in responding to.
We will be back!
The group of about 50 to 60 men started by throwing dozens of eggs at the PKR building. The situation spun out of control as some of participants became emotional and started to throw hard objects including stones, sticks and a traffic cone.
Shouting vulgar language including ‘babi’ which is Malay for pig, ‘barua’ (stooge) and even ‘p***’ (female private part), the group lunged at the dozen or so PKR supporters who had stood in front of the office entrance to watch what was happening.
The attacks were repeated for several more times with the verbal abuse and vulgar language getting more and more rowdy each time. The group kept pushing towards the PKR supporters, hurting 5 of the men. One reporter was also pushed to the ground during the scuffle.
The climax was in burning the PKR flag. When that was done, the group began to march back to their starting point but barely had they walked more than a few feet when they were called back by their leaders.
Apparently not satisfied, they regrouped and punched the air with their fists, shouting more threats and vulgarities. “We will be back,” they screamed.
Police only came when the demo ended
Coincidentally or not, just as the demonstration ended, the police arrived even though there is a station just three doors away from the PKR office. There were at least 7 patrol cars that came to the scene, but the police did not appear to do much. They did not even question the leaders of the group.
At a press conference held shortly before they dispersed, JMM president Azwanddin Hamzah made it clear the motive behind their protest was make sure the public was made aware of Anwar’s alleged hand in the Lahad Datu conspiracy.
He also demanded that Tian Chua apologize for allegedly having accused Umno of masterminding the intrusion, which has so far claimed the lives of 8 policemen and more than 50 Sulu militants.
“That doesn’t matter,” Azwanddin shrugged off the question, when asked if he knew that Tian had already refuted the allegation. “Tian Chua must apologize. That is not up for negotiation.”
His words were echoed by his colleagues from Waris Malaya and TIBAI.
“If not for the police, we would have burned down the PKR building,” shouted Sheik Weshal Sheikh Ahmad, the president of Waris Malaya.
5 injured, “this was not a peaceful assembly”
Meanwhile, 5 of the PKR supporters have lodged police reports against the pro-Umno group. They are Tamilarason a/l Nadaysen, Azman bin Hassan, Balakumaran a/l S Subramaniam, Regoovaran a/l Paramu and Suresh Kumar a/l Ramachandran.
All five claim to have sustained injuries. One alleged he was pulled and kicked in the lower abdomen, another in the head by a brick, a third by a stone in the head and the chest, a fourth by the traffic cone.
“This was not a peaceful assembly. How can it be a peaceful assembly when they brought along eggs, they threw stones and sticks and then burned the PKR flag,” Suresh Kumar told Malaysia Chronicle as he came out from the police station.
The men also lambasted the police for their “slow-motion” response.
“We already heard they (the Umno group) were coming around 1pm. At 3pm, they were already in the coffee-shop waiting for the rest to come. There was more than enough time for the police to do something. But what did the police do? They just stood around and watched,” said Suresh.”
Trying to keep Lahad Datu fresh in the minds of the Malay voters
The Lahad Datu debacle is a political hot potato for Najib, who has been accused of trying to capitalize on the incident to stir up patriotic sentiments ahead of the 13th general election due to be called within the next few weeks.
The mainstream media especially the Umno-owned newspapers and TV stations have gone to town painting Tian Chua and Anwar as traitors.
In the days ahead, as the protesters today had promised, both Tian and Anwar are likely to face even greater pressure and demonstrations as Najib and Umno try their best to keep the memory of the Lahad Datu intrusion fresh in the minds of the Malay voters.
However, their gambit may not work.
In cyberspace, for example, most netizens have condemed Najib and Umno for what they perceive to be unscrupulous tactics, even demanding that they be sacked for gross incompetence in allowing the breach of national security to happen, and then further mishandling it until it flared up into an international incident, costing scores of lives.