DENIAL: Opposition leader defends Dataran Merdeka breach
KUALA LUMPUR : OPPOSITION leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has denied instigating Bersih 3.0 protesters to breach the barricades surrounding Dataran Merdeka last Saturday and likened Malaysia to authoritarian regimes.
Anwar, who is also the Permatang Pauh member of parliament, likened last Saturday's chaos as that seen in nations under dictatorial rule.
"Just like in the time of (Adolf) Hitler, Joseph Stalin and the dictatorship in Myanmar previously, the ones who protest are criminals, the oppressors are clean of any allegations," he said.
Yesterday was Hitler's 67th death anniversary.
Anwar also defended the actions of the protesters, claiming that it was not a crime as Dataran Merdeka was public property.
"The protesters came there with the knowledge that they would get to sit in at Dataran Merdeka, so we cannot condemn them," he said at Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR)'s headquarters yesterday.
When questioned about a video that appeared online, portraying him gesturing PKR deputy president Azmin Ali to lift the barricades, Anwar said he was actually signalling Azmin to negotiate with the police.
"I was telling the people to move to Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, which is away from Dataran Merdeka. But the crowd was uncontrollable, so I asked Azmin if he could negotiate with the police to let them through."
When probed further on what transpired in the video, Azmin denied any interaction with an Indian man to his right, who was shown subsequently breaking the barricades.
"I need to watch the video again, but as far as I remember, there was no communication between me and him," Azmin said.
The man in question is allegedly a PKR member from Negri Sembilan. After being grilled by reporters for more than an hour, Anwar diverted further questions on the video and urged the people to focus on the main issues championed by Bersih.
In Kuala Terengganu, Special Affairs Department (Jasa) director-general Datuk Fuad Hassan accused Anwar of sparking chaos during the sit-in.
He said Jasa officers had caught the opposition leader on tape, gesturing to his deputy to break the barricades.
"The chaos led to 11 policemen being injured and some police vehicles being destroyed by the unruly crowd."
Fuad said the video would be handed to the police and the attorney-general for further investigations.
He was speaking after launching the department's "Budi dan Jasa" programme in Terengganu yesterday.
He slammed Anwar and Bersih 3.0 chairperson Datuk S. Ambiga for blaming the riot on the police.
"Their allegation that the security forces provoked the demonstrators was just to cover up their faults after people accused them of creating the chaos."
In a statement, the Association for the Promotion of Human Rights (Proham) said its analysis showed that most people had hoped for a peaceful gathering.
"However, some individuals chose to behave violently. Proham condemns such behaviour and calls on the authorities to investigate and charge them," the statement said.
It also commended the police for exercising restraint during the incident. Additional reporting by Satiman Jamin