Trust the pro-Umno groups to find an ethno-religious twist to the kangkung episode.
This video appears to be of the gathering of some 600-700 people outside the Sunway Carnival mall in Seberang Jaya yesterday.
Another rally of some 300 people was held in Alma, BM today at which a couple of passersby were reportedly attacked. Could this be the video of that incident?
The protests were held in response to last Wednesday’s flash mob at which Penang State Assembly assembly member Lee Khai Loon (Machang Bubuk – PKR) was present. Kangkung was stuffed into the mouth of an image of Prime Minister Najib Razak.
Now, freedom of assembly must be respected provided the gathering is non-violent and agents provocateurs are kept at bay. But indulging in hate speech is a different kettle of fish altogether.
A couple of years ago, when the Penang Bersih 3.0 organisers held a rally at the Esplanade, police had told them they had to comply with the provisions of the new Peaceful Assembly Act. The rally, attended by close to 10000 people, proceeded without incident.
Meanwhile, many of those participating in the Bersih 3.0 rally in KL were teargassed, sprayed with chemically laced water, even manhandled and arrested.
Those behind the peaceful Black 505 post-GE13 rallies, including one held in Batu Kawan on mainland Penang, were also hauled up to face the music for not giving the police 10 days notice as required under the Act. A few of them were even charged in court.
But what do we see here and at the earlier Klang protest against Herald editor Fr Lawrence Andrew by Selangor Umno?
Don’t the pro-Najib protesters here know that all ethnic groups are affected by price hikes – including those that are the result of the BN federal government’s neoliberal policies such as the hikes in university fees (following corporatisation) and the privatisation of health care (including general hospital support services and drug procurement)?
Or are they intentionally trying to divert attention by targeting Lee Khai Loon and stirring up ethno-religious sentiment – just as their counterparts in the Klang Valley had singled out Lawrence Andrew?
Or are they really trying to deflect pressure from Najib, whose popularity continues to erode amidst speculation about his hold on power? The kangkung episode and the price hikes must have aggravated this slide.
Whatever the reason, I believe a growing number of Malaysians can see through such tactics and will not fall for them. This number can only grow further as the burden of price hikes spreads.