Sungai Besar Umno chief Jamal Md Yunus and about fifty of his red-shirt underlings harassed Bersih volunteers who were distributing pamphlets in Bangi earlier today.
This was evident in footage posted on the Oriental Daily YouTube channel which showed red-shirts led personally by Jamal harassing Bersih volunteers, asking them to explain the points on the pamphlets that the volunteers were distributing.
He asked them to detail what they meant by “kerajaan zalim” (cruel government), a tainted Election Commission, unfair elections and other assertions that the pro-electoral reform body was campaigning to the public, as listed in their pamphlets.
While Jamal spoke cordially and seemed almost friendly when he singled out individual yellow-shirt volunteers to ask them the questions, his supporters could be heard screaming at the top of their lungs asking for explanations with less decorum than their polite leader.
They also could be heard using less polite words than that of their seemingly courteous leader.
When Jamal identified a Bersih volunteer for his question, the footage showed his red-shirted followers surrounding the unlucky person.
The footage also showed Jamal holding a stack of Bersih pamphlets which he seemed to have confiscated from one elderly Bersih volunteer. The person was pushed by a red-shirt when he asked for the return of the Bersih campaign collaterals.
It was this pamphlet that Jamal wielded as he confronted any yellow shirts that caught his eyes, asking for explanations.
However the red-shirts largely refrained from touching the volunteers in other confrontations in the footage, upon orders from what seemed to be a police officer.
“Do not touch! Do not touch!” said the unidentified man, when the red-shirts ringed a somewhat intimidated yellow shirt participant.
“We won’t touch him. We just want him to explain so that we understand. We are not here to fight,” the red-shirts could be heard responding, some shouting.
Seemingly flabbergasted, that particular volunteer found it difficult to explain and asked Jamal to talk to a Bersih spokesperson instead.
Jamal and his red-shirts however said that if the volunteer didn’t know what he was distributing to people, he had no business doing so.
Meanwhile Sinchew Daily also posted several videos on their article of the altercations online, featuring several groups of red-shirts on motorbikes revving their engines and assembling at several areas where the Bersih volunteers were engaging with the public.
Several uniformed police and others in civilian clothing wearing fluorescent police vests could be seen hovering around Jamal and his followers.
Though police largely kept their distance as long as the red-shirts only asked questions and did not physically harass the Bersih volunteers.
Except in the case of the elderly volunteer whose pamphlet was confiscated, when police moved in to act as buffer, as a red-shirt manhandled the gentlemen to prevent him from reclaiming the Bersih campaign materials from Jamal.
Bid to avoid confrontation
In the footage, it seemed that most of the Bersih volunteers walked away and continued their engagement with the public, in what seemed like a bid to avoid confrontation, though Jamal and his crew continued to seek them out.
The Umno division chief had previously vowed that he and his red-shirts would shadow the Bersih volunteers on their nationwide convoy to explain their demand for election reforms to the rakyat in the run-up to the Nov 19 Bersih 5 rally.
Jamal also vowed that he and his followers would be there to meet head to head with Bersih 5 rally participants, adding that they were prepared for anything to happen in the confrontation he openly said would occur if Bersih went on with its rally plans.
Jamal also recently showcased a silat performance featuring himself after previous performance by his followers who broke sticks, planks and stone blocks on each other in what was designed perhaps to showcase their physical prowess.
‘Outrageous bully tactics’ condemned
In an immediate reaction, Bersih condemned the “outrageous bully tactics” of Jamal and his followers in Bangi today.
“The red-shirts have again used criminal intimidation to stop and frustrate the Bersih 5 convoy. They tore Bersih materials, tried to damage car windows, and Jamal himself was filmed verbally abusing a Bersih supporter.
“When the Bersih motorists tried to continue with their convoy, the red-shirt motorists revved their motorbikes and deliberately blocked our security bikers from carrying out their duties of ensuring the convoy’s safety,” said the electoral reform NGO in a statement.
Bersih also decried similar harassment against a Bersih convoy in Labuan by other red-shirts, as well as the new black-shirt group that interfered with another Bersih convoy in Tanjung Malim which was carrying the Bersih 5 torch slated for use in next week’s rally.
However, despite the disturbance, Bersih said that the torch was handed over successfully from the Perak convoy to the Selangor convoy, although the black-shirts continued to yell at the group.
Bersih noted that despite the red-shirts’ behaviour that seems tantamount to criminal intimidation, they seem to be let-off free, while electoral reform activists are piled with numerous police investigations.
In any case Bersih said that despite the unruly behaviour of the red-shirts, their own yellow-shirts will continue maintain peaceful conduct as they exercise their right to free expression and shall cooperate with the police to keep the peace.
“We thank the police who have carried out their duties in maintaining peaceful assemblies and reined in these violent hooligans,” added Bersih.
Bersih vowed that it would assemble for the planned Nov 19 rally and it would cooperate with the police to maintain a peaceful assembly.
Source : Malaysiakini