OccupyDataran: 'Irresponsible' Hisham, Khaled open the gates for further Umno mob attacks
If the response from Umno ministers to the early-morning attack on student protesters at the Dataran Merdeka is any gauge, then those who accused Prime Minister Najib Razak's party of instigating the violence have got it correct.
No doubt, it was to be expected that the responses from Umno leaders would differ from those of the Pakatan Rakyat's but even so, few anticipated such callous reaction suggestive of guilt.
Giving the green light for further mob attacks
Neither Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein nor Higher Education Minister Khaled Nordin offered a word of sympathy. Instead they scolded everyone from the students, to the activists and the Opposition but refused to chide the attackers or the police who had been slow to respond.
"This is quite incredible and typical of Hisham. He could at least watch the video before accusing the protesters of faking the attack. He is making everyone angry with his bull in the china shop approach," PKR MP for Batu Tian Chua told Malaysia Chronicle.
"We take note that Hisham has also refused to give any form of police protection to the students. He might as well be giving the green light to Umno rowdies to keep up their attacks and we hold him responsible."
At a press conference this morning, Hisham, whose cousin is Prime Minister Najib Razak, advised the public to be wary of the students' claims.
“There have been such cases where allegations of such nature have been used to raise emotions, be it in the areas of race, religion and now involving students,” Hisham said on Thursday.
Ridiculed the students
The Home Minister did show any concern for those students who were injured, but focused on suggesting that the attack was played up by the Opposition to stir up public anger.
Hisham also said those fearful for their safety should complain to City Hall, which is in charge of the Dataran Merdeka or Independence Square.
“Let the necessary agencies investigate, and at the moment the one who has control of Dataran Merdeka is the Kuala Lumpur City Council and I don’t see it as a major security issue,” he said.
“As I see it, the protesters only occupy a corner of the Dataran, but in terms of the legality of this, you should ask the KL mayor.”
Both Hisham and Khaled, the minister for higher education, laughed off the growing dissent amongst the student population in the country as being able to have any impact on the image of their Umno-BN coalition.
“Twenty or 30 people set up tents in Dataran Merdeka and it’s as if the world is coming to an end,” said Hisham.
"No one asked them to camp at Dataran, so if anything happens, don't try to get sympath," Khaled wrote on his Twitter.
So, it was Umno!
Around 3am on Thursday morning, a mob of at least 40 men attacked students who were camping at the Dataran Merdeka ground.
Some of the students were part of the MansuhPTPTN or abolish students' loan campaign and some were part of the OccupyDataran, a movement that aims to "reclaim democratic space" from the authoritarian Umno-BN regime.
The violent conduct of the perpetrators gave rise to speculation that they were thugs sent in by Umno to scare the protesters. The response from both Hisham and Khaled have compounded the perception.
Violence and scare-mongering is a tactic widely used by the ruling coalition to suppress its political rivals and ordinary citizens from demanding too many social and civil liberties, or it might threaten its hold on power.
"There were 60-70 thugs attacked our camp at Dataran Merdeka at about 245am this morning. Those with cameras and recording devices were ambushed and attacked. One person has been sent to the hospital with an ambulance," the OccupyDataran organizers said in an email sent to Malaysia Chronicle.