Press statement from Anwar Ibrahim on repressive actions by Malaysian government

March 24 2009

A phase of repression descended on Malaysia as Najib Razak seizes control of the reins of power, even before officially taking over as Prime Minister, and unleashes his brutality and violence on the people.

Last night, a rally of about 10,000 people from all races wasmercilessly attacked by the police with tear gas and acid-laced water cannon minutes after I began my speech in Bukit Selambau. Scores of people were arrested including my chief of staff, MPs, and senior aides to the Chief Minister of Kedah.

To justify their iron hand tactics and blatant violation of the people’s fundamental liberties, the police have claimed that the rally was illegal. These are baseless claims as the event took place on private property and adhered to the rules.

Last night’s show of brute force is but the latest in a series of harsh and dictatorial action by the government under Najib against the people. Also yesterday Suara Keadilan and Harakah werebanned by the Home Ministry without any justification. These events only too starkly remind us of the cruel and authoritarian style of leadership under which Malaysians suffered for many years. The police force has become a band of marauders. The press is muzzled and those who speak the truth about the abuses carried out by the ruling clique are arrested, beaten and bullied.

The institutions of governance serve the interests of an elite clique which will exceed all boundaries of the law to retain power. A return to that era would be a disaster for this country and people of conscience around the world should condemn these unscrupulous actions.

It is quite clear that despite his superficial offers for cooperation and bipartisanship, the olive branch which Najib Razak extended to the opposition early this month is really a dagger in disguise.

In two weeks Malaysians will once again return to the polls in three important by-elections. Once again all forms of trickery, cheating and bribery will be employed by the UMNO led BN government in order to defeat the opposition. But we are confident that Malaysians will register a referendum, much like they already have done in Kuala Terengganu and in Permatang Pauh, against the brutal and inhumane policies of the government. The movement for change and reform in Malaysia will push forward and will succeed.



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