September 10, 2012
Pre-Election Violence: A Concern for All Malaysians
Terence Netto’s COMMENT: It’s not just PKR that should be sending its Secretary-General, Dato’ Saifuddin Nasution, to meet with the Inspector-General of Police on the issue of his personnel’s seeming indifference towards violence that has occurred or been inflicted at PKR-organised public gatherings.
Given the dispositions of the Police Force, this might seem like a futile gesture. But, in our post-2008 political landscape, more concerns have been heightened by sustained protest than by genteel complaint.
Ask polls reform advocacy group, BERSIH. No doubt their agenda for reform has not achieved its minimal goals, but their sustained agitation must have hit a responsive chord among the populace, otherwise would there have been crowds of heft and compositional variety at its two demonstrations of strength in July last year and last April.
Thus it is not enough that PKR Secretary-General seek a meeting with the IGP over the issue of the growing incidence of violence committed against and at the party’s gatherings; he should be accompanied by a phalanx of Pakatan leaders because this is an issue that transcends intra-coalition lines of party affiliation.
BERSIH should be involved too
True, the pre-polls violence that is rearing its ugly head has largely targeted PKR, though a shoe hurled in a mosque in Alor Setar over the weekend before last is reported to have narrowly missed PAS Vice-President Mahfuz Omar who was present at what was an occasion organised for PKR supremo, Anwar Ibrahim, that was disrupted by the actions of a platoon of Perkasa goons.
True, also, that the perpetrators of the violence appear thus far chary of fomenting tumult at DAP or PAS-organised gatherings because that would likely provoke a reaction across confessional lines, possibly engendering a groundswell against the powers-that-be – about the last thing the hoodlums would want to see happening at this stage.
The goons are intent on targeting PKR, especially the party’s leader, Anwar, in the hope of portraying both the party and its supremo as a fount of trouble, the better to achieve their purpose of creating a situation where – if things seem likely that UMNO-BN are going to be defeated at the polls – regnant tensions can be made to appear explosive enough for authority to supervene to impose extra-parliamentary controls.
Steadily and surely, the scene is being prepared for the infliction of violence such that reactions are provoked, thereby leading to a cycle of reprisals and counter reprisals that would compel the imposition of a blanket lid by supervening authority.
Because the entire matter concerns the general election, polls reform advocacy group, BERSIH, should also get into the act and clamour for a meeting with the IGP to raise public alarm over a situation that is being contrived to subvert the democratic process.
Police’s Dereliction of Duty
The seeming indifference of the Police Force towards violent behaviour posed by agent provocateurs at PKR-organised gatherings has been evident since the time the corporatisation of FELDA became a controversial issue earlier this year.
Objects have been hurled, fists thrown in fury, and, on occasion, blood has been drawn at violence-marred PKR gatherings but the police have yet to bring the perpetrators to account.
This is a dereliction by Police of their fiduciary duty, amid an overall perception of the force’s enfeeblement in the face of a general public perception that crime and the impunity of criminals have become matters of transcendent concern.
The Police are comporting themselves like Russia and China are in the UN Security Council towards the Bashar Assad regime’s violent suppression of the Syrian uprising: they pretend to be concerned about the niceties of the law (international law, in the case of Russia and China at the council) while all the while ordinary people are brutalised.
This attitude gives neutralism a bad name while brigands are afforded the licence to continue with their nefarious ways. Pakatan should reject the fatalism that characterises their attitude towards the Police.
Just because the cops are known to be stool pigeons of the powers-that-be, Pakatan must not decline to make a public spectacle of their refusal to accept the force’s abdication of responsibility of holding the goons to account.
Pakatan must dramatise their protestations of the force’s unconscionable neutralism. It must make noise, ingeniously and creatively.An aroused public can jolt a neutered Police Force to compose themselves the way they ought.