Thursday, May 23, 2013

Opposition to Anwar’s Rallies Grows

Anwar Ibrahim's string of illegal rallies continues, but the support for those rallies is evaporating daily. After PAS announced that it had accepted the election results and the DAP through Lim Kit Siang began to tone down its rhetoric, it seemed as if Anwar's support was reaching new lows.

It has begun to sink even lower. The National Fatwa Council has announced that the rallies and any effort to topple the Government by force are "haram" (forbidden). "Any rallies which can break the unity of citizens are not compatible with Islam," the council's chairman Prof Emeritus Tan Sri Abdul Shukor Husin told the Malay daily Sinar Harian.

"This is forbidden. The Fatwa Council have issued a fatwa declaring such actions haram during the Bersih 2.0 rally. So, it should not be repeated." The Council issued a similar statement before the Bersih 3.0 rally in 2012, which descended into chaos and attacks on the police after Anwar and PKR deputy president Azmin Ali allegedly signalled to some protesters to charge police barricades.

Similarly, former DAP vice-president and founder of Transparency International (Malaysia) Tunku Abdul Aziz Tunku Ibrahim is not backing away from his position despite legal threats by DAP supremo Karpal Singh against him. "The fact is that Anwar did not make it to Putrajaya, he should leave other Malaysians in peace.

"They are all lawmakers, the likes of Anwar, (Lim) Guan Eng, Kit Siang and others. And yet they are prepared to become lawbreakers by supporting a movement (Bersih) that had intended to break the law," he said, reiterating his prophetic claims in the lead-up to Bersih that the rally would end in protester-spawned violence.

So closely have Anwar's name and recent rallies been tied to the idea of violent unrest that he was forced to disavow any relationship with the Pakatan Rakyat-allied Solidariti Anak Muda Malaysia (SAMM) street protest planned for Saturday. SAMM has allegedly sent a circulation text calling for the protest to "overthrow the government".

Anwar's denial of responsibility is viewed by many as disingenuous. PKR Sungai Acheh assemblyman Badrul Hisham Shaharin is the chairman of SAMM, and it is unlikely that he decided to organise an illegal street rally without discussing the matter with his party superiors.

Anwar's penchant for street theatre and the intemperate rhetoric he has employed at his rallies risk prolonging the divide in Malaysia (while Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has called for reconciliation), all because sore-loser Anwar can't accept the election outcome, which has even been recognized by his own ranks.

In his trademark way, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad captured the heart of the matter. Noting that if one set of street rallies brought down a Government, the ousted party would take to the streets to take down its successor. "Perhaps it would be better if governments are chosen through street demonstrations. It would probably be less fraudulent," he quipped.

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