Penang calls end to violence, promises not to provoke enemies

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(MM) – The Penang Pakatan Rakyat (PR) government pledged today to refrain from any act of provocation towards its political foes, citing concern over the recent series of violent incidents involving state lawmakers and politicians.

In an announcement here, Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and his deputy Mohd Rashid Hasnon said all PR state assemblymen and MPs have been summoned for a 3pm meeting tomorrow to discuss the matter.

Lim, who is also Penang PR chief and DAP’s secretary-general, told a press conference that the state views the recent violent incidents seriously as it concerns public security in Penang.

“We will not bow down to these extremist forces but let us not undertake provocative acts to give them the opportunity to do provocative acts in return,” he said.

Referring to the recent scuffle that broke out after a group of youths tried to stop enforcement officers from removing illegal stalls in Teluk Bahang, Lim said he was very disturbed that a senior civil servant, who had been there on duty, could be roughed up by the protestors.

He noted that this had happened even with policemen present during the enforcement exercise.

“This is serious as we are very concerned about the security, safety and peace in Penang especially when we know who are involved in these acts of violence,” he said.

Lim pointed out that even Umno’s coalition partner MCA had lashed out at Umno Youth for its alleged involvment in the protest, which had resulted in Southwest district office principal assistant Abu Hasan Omar getting roughed up and his shirt torn.

In the Tuesday incident, Abu Hasan and a team of council enforcement officers, accompanied by about 35 policemen, were dismantling illegal stalls that were vacant, recently built or still in various stages of construction when they were stopped by a group of youths said to be from Umno Youth Teluk Bahang, Malay rights group Perkasa and Pekida.

A scuffle broke out and Abu Hasan found himself surrounded and assaulted before the police intervened.

The enforcement exercise was immediately cancelled and the police detained seven men to assist in investigations into the incident.

Lim also brought up the weekend demonstrations organised by Umno leaders at Machang Bubuk and Seberang Jaya, both to protest the kangkung-themed flash mob by PKR’s Machang Bubuk assemblyman Lee Khai Loon.

“In those demonstrations they have made these terrible remarks and slogans, some that we’ve never heard before, terrible remarks that can create racial tension,” the Chief Minister said.

Labeling this dangerous, Lim said the state Pakatan Rakyat (PR) leadership will hold an emergency meeting with all of its Penang state assemblymen and MPs tomorrow.

“Due to the gravity of this situation, we have asked all MPs and state assemblymen to attend except for Bukit Gelugor MP Karpal Singh and Permatang Pauh MP Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim who were unable to make it,” he said.