We did not start the riot - Anwar (pix: Hussein Shaharuddin/The Mole)
KUALA LUMPUR: A press conference which was to be the platform for PKR to explain their role in Bersih 3.0, became tense when fingers were pointed at its de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim for allegedly turning what was supposed to be a peaceful rally into a riot.
Under pressure from the media for his alleged role, Anwar, in his defense, accused some of the media of being Umno-controlled and were trying to make PKR the scapegoat after the rally went out of control.
Refuting allegations that he had signaled PKR's deputy president Mohamed Azmin Ali to start the riot, Anwar claimed he was in fact trying to tell the crowd to move to Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman and disperse peacefully.
Anwar was responding to a barrage of questions from the media about a video posted on Youtube on how he was perceived to be gesturing to Azmin to break through barriers put up by the authorities at Dataran Merdeka.
He repeatedly said that the gesture he made was meant to ask Azmin whether the latter had negotiated with the police about letting them in or not.
The video, which ran for almost 20 minutes had gone viral on cyber space and it showed Anwar gesturing to Azmin and a man wearing a yellow t-shirt before the latter broke the barrier and led the protestors threateningly towards policemen and riot police personnels who have been guarding the square.
Azmin who was present during the press conference denied he had spoken to any Indian guy as alleged and said: “I cannot remember speaking to anyone. But if anything, it was to indicate that I had negotiated with police".
A journalist from the foreign press corp questioned Anwar and Azmin about how the video had led the perception that both the PKR top guns were exchanging signals to spark off the riot.
Both vehemently denied they were pushing for the riot.
Another journalist from the Malaysian Digest portal claimed he was standing close to Azmin (on the Saturday) and when the MP for Gombak was clearly video taped speaking to a man in Yellow but Azmin adamantly said it was all a lie made up by Umno.
When asked by The Mole whether Anwar, as a leader, will take full responsibility for what had happened during the rally, he responded by alleging the portal as belonging to Umno and told the media present to investigate the Port Klang Free Zone scandal.
The press conference became more intense when a man who was identified as Benji Lim, claiming to be a bona fide Bersih supporter, raised his voice at Anwar, expressing his anger and disappointment that the involvement of the political parties had put their lives in danger.
"There was no leadership and no crowd control. It was completely hijacked by the Opposition," Lim said, adding that the behaviour of those from the opposition political in taking the rally for granted had risked the lives of the participants.
A few people, believed to be PKR officers were seen trying to stop him from asking more questions to Anwar.
Then Anwar pointed out that allegations that he started the riot was not the real issue and instead the media should focus on the enormous size of the crowd which.
Blaming the media as being Umno-controlled Anwar said: "You guys are blinded and cannot see the fact that 300,000 people came and hundreds are beaten. (The beatings) are unacceptable".