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Sunday, August 13, 2017

Expert ties fiery end to forum to racial rhetoric against Mahathir

UKM's Faisal S Hazis says Mahathir's opponents had tied his opposition to Umno with his loyalty to race and religion.
PETALING JAYA: Racial rhetoric played a big part in today’s violence which brought a PPBM forum to an abrupt end, says an expert on electoral politics.
Faisal S Hazis, associate professor at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s Institute of Malaysian and International Studies, said whipping up such sentiments had charged right-wing elements among certain quarters, citing the Red Shirts movement as an example.
He said the pandemonium at the “Nothing to Hide” forum was a result of race and religion being used for political mileage.
He said there were attempts to paint former Umno strongman Dr Mahathir Mohamad as a traitor to the Malays for joining the opposition.
“Some people who disagree with Mahathir are trying to make it look like the reason he’s in arms with the opposition now is to bring down a Malay-led government,” Faisal told FMT, hours after pandaemonium erupted at the Dewan Raja Muda Musa in Shah Alam.
Mahathir had just finished answering a question when a projectile believed to have been laced with chemicals was thrown at his direction. Soon after, violence erupted as supporters rushed to the stage to protect the 92-year old former prime minister.
Mahathir was not hurt, although FMT understands that at least one party volunteer was hurt after he was hit with a chair. Police have meanwhile arrested three suspects, aged between 17 and 19.
Faisal said the incident today was waiting to happen.
“When people play up this kind of sentiment among the Malay community, you’ll see this kind of things happening,” he told FMT.
He said racial rhetoric took a spike after the general elections in 2008 and 2013, which saw opposition gains.
“In 2008 and 2013, people started to speculate that there could be another May 13 riot but both times it didn’t happen. There is a need for us to go beyond the ghost of May 13,” he said, referring to deadly clashes between Malays and Chinese in 1969.
But Faisal said the incident was not reflective of the majority of Malaysians.
“For all we know, these could be thugs being paid or they could be truly emotional political supporters. We can only forecast and predict at this point.” - FMT

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