Politics

“Civil” dialogue turns rowdy

Zaidi Azmi
Written by Zaidi Azmi

KUALA LUMPUR – June 5, 2015: What was touted to be a civil dialogue between non-governmental organisations and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak today went awry and turned unruly.

It was cancelled just about an hour after it was to have started. About 10am Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar tweeted that the “Nothing To Hide” dialogue in which the prime minister was to have answered questions about 1MDB had to be cancelled for safety and public order concerns,

The event was organised by Sukarelawan Peguam Malaysia or SukaGuam.

The New Straits Times sent an alert quoting the IGP’s twitter. Bernama quoted a statement by the PM’s Office via Facebook that the PMO was informed by the organisers that the dialogue had to be postponed on the advice of the IGP @PDRMsia.

It said that due to security considerations and on the advice of the IGP, Najib could not attend.

But Najib’s unrelenting critic since recent times, former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was there, although an official from the organiser said no invitation was extended to him.

The former PM too confirmed this but said he decided to attend anyway because news on his possible presence had gone viral.

About 1,500 people had gone to the Tun Hussein Hall at the Putra World Trade Centre for the dialogue that was scheduled to start at 10am but many were turned away due to the limited seating.

One man who created a scene was apprehended by the police.

The crowd became restless and was clearly peeved when an announcement was made to say the police was not satisfied with the security level and had requested the event to be postponed.

Soon after Dr Mahathir arrived,  he was given a standing ovation and as he went to the rostrum, the hall went silent.

“His father was my idol, I was indebted to Tun Razak but no longer can I continue to support Najib. The policies he introduced are not doing any good for the nation.

“He bowed down to America and he sought the counsel of the Singapore prime minister regarding the proposed high speed train.

“We claimed to have gained our independence but the way I see it… we are still being invaded,” Dr Mahathir said.

Dr Mahathir went on to repeat his dissatisfaction with Najib’s administration and his allegations against 1MDB.

At the point when he started to talk about “Jho Low”,  police stepped in and asked him to stop.

This was when the heckling from the floor was heard.

After Dr Mahathir left, the organisers held a press conference led by Sukaguam chairman Datuk Khairul Anuar, who said the dialogue was never intended to be held in the presence of Dr Mahathir.

“I also would like to inform that Datuk Seri Najib in fact was about to leave his house to come here when he was advised by the police against attending.”

Khairul also said he had not given permission to the masters of ceremony to welcome Dr Mahathir on stage to speak.

“The moment I was told that Mahathir was about to speak, I was pushed aside and taken away by the police.”

While some appeared dissatisfied with the premature end of the session, several journalists and bloggers known to be on the ultra-Mahathir side were heard commenting favourably about what had happened.

Some patted each other’s backs and exchanged high-fives.

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About the author

Zaidi Azmi

Zaidi Azmi

If Zaidi Azmi isn’t busy finding his way in the city, this 26-year-old northern kampung boy can be found struggling to make sense of the Malaysian political scene. Zaidi can be reached at zaidiazmi91@gmail.com.