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Political violence should not happen in a genuine democracy and the authorities must take stern action to curb such incidents, former Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan said today amid more reports of violent clashes between Barisan Nasional (BN) and Pakatan Rakyat (PR) supporters ahead of elections expected next year. He told a public forum organised by the Sinar Harian newspaper today that he hoped BN would reform and stop the culture of violence if it won the next polls. And if PR were to take power, the former top police officer said he hoped PR would not become “political thugs”.

Rough house tactics have become a feature of Malaysian politics, and went up a notch yesterday with the first stabbing at a political rally ahead of the 13th general elections. A group of people alleged to be Umno Youth members yesterday attacked a PKR rally in Gombak that left a few opposition volunteers injured, leading to swift condemnation from PR leaders. In the attack, a PKR supporter is believed to have been stabbed with a sharp weapon on his left shoulder, the party’s paper Keadilan Daily reported.

This is not the first attack on a PR rally, with a similar incident happening in Lembah Pantai earlier this year where a crowd at a rally held by Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was attacked. The PKR bus used by Anwar and party leaders for its nationwide pre-election campaign tour, Jelajah Merdeka Rakyat , has also been splashed with paint and attacked with rocks several times. “Political violence does not happen in a democratic country. In a democratic country the election of a government does not see matters that endanger security,” said Musa today.

He took a swipe, however, at the opposition for supporting street protests and demonstrations. “According to one book it is said that if a leader is not suitable there must be ‘reformasi’ on the streets. This is now a reference for the young. “Previous general elections were like festivals (but) in Malaysia the politics has been endless. Five years on and there is still politics and the endless blaming of each other.” Without naming anyone, he said accused political leaders of failing to control supporters, which he blamed for the rise in the political temperature in recent years.

He said election campaigns were no longer like festivals because it was now dominated by “politics of hatred.” Musa said that while the authorities must act to curb political violence, he pointed out that the job had become more challenging because of new laws which had introduced more freedoms. “The police must be fair. Previously one had to apply for a permit to organise a ceramah. But with new laws there are now problems and the police have to be prepared better. “In the past the police did not have to station much personnel at rallies but now speakers are challenging the authority of the police,” he said.

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