KUALA LUMPUR: Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s call for the public to participate in the Bersih 5 rally this Saturday is “unbecoming” of a statesman, said Deputy Home Minister Nur Jazlan Mohamed.
Slamming the former premier for “inciting the public into joining an illegal gathering”, Nur Jazlan pointed to Mahathir’s hypocrisy by going back on all the principles he laid out during his 22 years as prime minister.
“When (former opposition leader) Anwar Ibrahim’s supporters organised street demonstrations in 1998, Mahathir used (the now abolished Internal Security Act) ISA against them,” he told reporters at the Parliament lobby here today.
Nur Jazlan was referring to the Reformasi movement which began when Anwar was sacked from his post as the deputy prime minister and later sent to prison for sodomy and corruption.
Mahathir was accused of being the reason for the alleged injustice against Anwar, but in the Pakatan Harapan convention last Saturday, the 91-year-old was spotted with a “Free Anwar” badge pinned on his shirt.
Although he was initially expected to once again make an appearance at the Bersih 5 rally, Mahathir last night said this would not be possible as he had a prior engagement overseas.
On a separate note, Nur Jazlan, when asked on Umno information chief Annuar Musa’s claim that party leaders are powerless to stop their members from joining the Red Shirts in their battle against Bersih, said Annuar was stating the truth.
He added that if Bersih claimed to have the right to demonstrate, then Umno leaders cannot stop their members from doing the same.
“We have three million members, how to control them? It is a coalition of many people who subscribe to Umno, but that doesn’t mean they will follow our directions.”
He also said that Umno members who joined the rally would not face disciplinary action unless they broke the law.
When pointed out that since the rally had been declared illegal, those who participated in it would automatically be considered as breaking the law, Nur Jazlan said:
“They may not be there for the rally; maybe they are just walking around the area. You have to prove that they have done something wrong first.”
The Red Shirts movement, led by Sungai Besar Umno division chief Jamal Md Yunos, has vowed to hold a counter-rally to Bersih 5 at the same time and venue, which is Dataran Merdeka.
Police have announced that Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) has refused to allow the rallies to take place at Dataran Merdeka. As such, if both Bersih and the Red Shirts proceed to gather there, then they would be deemed to have breached the law. -FMT