Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said today that the banning of opposition newspapers and the crackdown on last night’s Pakatan Rakyat (PR) rally in Kedah marks the beginning of what he says is Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak’s repressive regime.
Last night Federal Reserve Unit (FRU) forces fired tear gas and used water cannons on thousands gathered at a ceramah in Bukit Selambau just as Anwar was beginning his speech.
He alleged today that thousands of his supporters were “mercilessly attacked” by the FRU but the police have claimed that the rally was illegal.
“When I was giving my speech, I saw the anti riot police out in the field. There was no riot. The riot police is only needed when there is a riot.
“If they wanted to take action under the law it is clear that if the rally had no permit then they should have given us notice. I would have stopped. They were gathering peacefully but the onslaught almost went on for an hour,” he explained.
Anwar also mentioned that the suspension for three months of Suara Keadilan and Harakah by the Home Minisitry resembles the “cruel and authoritarian” style of leadership under which Malaysians have experienced under Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s administration..
“Last evening, Suara Keadilan and Harakah was not given the permission to be distributed for three months because of negative news. It is negative because it touches on the case of Datuk Seri Najib in the murder of Altantuya.
“The whole world has reported, Liberation in France, New York Times, International Herald Tribune, Forum Indonesia, London Sunday Times, Philippine Star. If they were all publishing in Malaysia, their permit will be rejected,” he explained.
Anwar said that the recent moves by the government was a very disturbing trend which shows clear intolerance to opposing parties.
“This shows a pattern, a new phase of repression to be used by Datuk Seri Najib and his ruling colleagues when he assumes office.
“I trust the wisdom of Malaysians to continue their desire for change and reforms and we will work very hard in the three by-elections to show the formidable draconian measures by Barisan Nasional will not be tolerated,” he added.
In a separate statement, DAP parliamentary leader Lim Kit Siang cited the suspension of Puchong MP Gobind Singh Deo and Bukit Gelugor MP Karpal Singh being charged under the Sedition Act 1948 as examples of Najib’s crackdown before he assumes premiership.
“The unethical, undemocratic, illegal and constitutional power grab in Perak on 5th February 2009, personally orchestrated by the PM-in-waiting has confirmed the worst fears that his ascension as the sixth Prime Minister would see a return of Mahathirism and a Najib crackdown,” Lim said.