“The whole state of Melaka belongs to Barisan Nasional (BN). There is no room for the opposition in Melaka. Since the rakyats had voted favorably towards BN candidates during the 2008 election, therefore, members of the opposition party shouldn’t be allowed to set foot in Melaka’s soil.”
Sounds too immature, idiotic, pompous or even Sulu-like to you? Well, that was precisely the stand taken by PERKASA-cum-UMNO party members on 19th May 2012, in Merlimau, Melaka.
The opposition Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) had invited Datuk Ambiga, former President of Malaysian Bar Council and clean-election NGO (BERSIH) chairperson, to tea at the party-owned field in Merlimau. Ambiga was to address roughly a couple hundred Indian voters in the Merlimau constituency.
The function was scheduled to begin at 5 pm, with Ambiga expected to explain why BERSIH demonstrations were necessary evils for the betterment of Malaysia. Apart from Ambiga, other guest speakers include at least three opposition assemblymen (YB Ampang, YB Ayer Keroh and YB Bandar Hilir) and a number of local PAS leaders.
By 3:30 pm, two rows of anti-riot police (FRU) had blocked the two main entrance to the venue, turning away many would-be interested walk-in attendees. Whereas, a third back-door road leading to the venue had been blocked by UMNO@PERKASA members, dressed in red t-shirts and red kamikaze bandanas.
Several local UMNO assemblymen, including YB Ghazalee (Serkam), YB Hassan Rahman (Sg Rambai) and YB Roslan (Merlimau) were seen circling the venue. At least one of the assemblymen was spotted cycling at the scene, and merrily waved at the assembled instigators.
To top it off, one senior UMNO parliamentarian, YB Ahmad Hamzah was also seen being escorted to-and-fro the venue. Yet, none of the above politicians showed any attempt to disburse the rowdy crowd.
Boxes of eggs and mineral water could be seen along the roadside, guarded by pinky-clad Puteri UMNO (young girls wing of the BN ruling party).
Almost every outstation car that drove in, was jeered by the red-shirted anti-BERSIH crowd, “Haram-Jadah Ambiga. Go home. You are not welcome here (in Melaka).”
Members of the organizing committee expressed their disappointment, “This is a private function, for selected invitees only, and held on a private property. We invited Datuk Ambiga for tea, to address Merlimau’s Indian community.
Why aren’t we allowed to assemble peacefully? Why must they close the entrance and roads leading to our function? Why are they purposely chasing away members of the public from attending our tea?
Why must they (the police) hold roadblocks? Datuk Ambiga is not a criminal. She is a Malaysian citizen. A distinguished citizen in the legal profession.
Why must they (UMNO@PERKASA instigators) send riot police? This is a peaceful assembly. We are just having tea.”
While waiting for the guest-of-honor’s arrival, a voice was heard over the loud speaker.
“We have been informed that MalaysiaKini (news portal) reporters who were on the way to cover our tea today, were not allowed to cross police roadblock. They were asked to turn back to Kuala Lumpur. Please do not be discouraged. So far, we have not heard anything from Datuk Ambiga. It is possible that her entourage is still on the way here.”
The overall mood was sombre. Many attendees kept shaking their heads. How could such hooliganism be allowed in self-declared, supposedly fully-developed city of Melaka? How could UMNO’s elected assemblymen and parliamentarian of a so-called developed state, allow such unruly behavior instigated by its own party members?
Have they no shame? Have they lost simple curtesy and respect towards fellow human being? Fellow Malaysians? Fellow citizens?
“Why must you spoil other people’s function? Isn’t that unprofessional and un-islamic?” I queried one of the red-shirted instigators. I had to ask. I had to know what motivated them to throw away whatever dignity they may have left, for UMNO. For BN.
“We don’t mind if the they’ve invited PAS President, Awang Hadi, or even PAS’s spiritual leader, Nik Ab Aziz. At least these two people give religious talks. But this Ambiga is anti-Islam, pro-lesbian, and stupefies the Malays’ intelligence,” he answered, confidently. The red-shirted elderly man was apparently a retired jaga, who only recently joined UMNO’s Merlimau chapter.
I frowned on the retired jaga. The last time I covered Awang Hadi’s visit to Jasin (Melaka), UMNO’s Chief Minister himself became a party to the setting up of an impromptu camp adjacent to PAS’s function. The Chief Minister of Melaka (Ali Rustam) then, personally boohoo the PAS leader. He even made continued woofing sound of a…dog-in-mating, just to deny the opposition leader from being heard.
Yes, the Chief Minister. In any western country, such abhorred behavior from a state leader could lead to losing his position. The public would’ve acted so fast, before anyone can even pronounce the word, ‘nincompoop’. But in Melaka, Malaysia, such dodgy Chief Minister get to rule the state for the next 12 years!
As I walked back to the ‘tea party’, another announcement was made, “We are sorry to inform you that Datuk Ambiga had to turn back to KL. She was not all too happy with the reports she received and feared for her safety.”
I immediately left the function. My ‘story’ didn’t show up.
Next morning, several photos were posted in the internet. Opposition assemblymen cars had been pelted with eggs and bricks on the way out, of the now infamous, “Merlimau Tea.” The cars were visibly dented; and at least one photo showed a vehicle with a smashed front wind screen and side view mirrors. Obviously, those photos never seen the light of the day in any of BN-controlled mainstream media.
Till today, I keep wondering what the two rows of FRU were doing, while the opposition’s vehicles were viciously attacked.
Several days later, the sole UMNO parliamentarian swore in public that he wasn’t even at the venue. The obviously concocted testimony was widely published, in all if not most, BN-controlled newspapers. Unbelievable.