Apr 19, 2007

It's HEATING up at Ijok

The fire is beginning to heat up at Ijok. First we have the fracas that broke off during the nomination day.

(Reuters) - Malaysian riot police stepped in to calm political tensions on Thursday after rival factions hurled bottles, stones and abuse at each other as the nation geared up for a possible early general election.

In heavy rain, thousands of supporters of the ruling coalition and of opposition figure Anwar Ibrahim traded insults in a small town outside the capital where a by-election will be held next week.

Police armed with batons, shields and water cannon moved in to keep the peace after about 2,000 Anwar supporters confronted a pro-government crowd of about 5,000, accusing the coalition of corruption and raising living costs.

Ethnic Malays, who dominate politics in this multi-racial society, made up the majority of both factions. Holding party flags and banners, they rallied outside a hall where candidates were to be formally announced.

Some chanted "Reformasi", an old war cry of Anwar's reform movement of the late 1990s, one of the most tumultuous chapters in Malaysian politics. Anwar, a former deputy premier, was arrested for leading a "Reformasi" protest in 1998 and jailed for six years on what he called trumped-up charges.

Several of his supporters carried a poster of Anwar headlined "He is the best for Malaysia" -- though Anwar is banned from standing for office until April 2008, due to his criminal record.

Other Anwar supporters touched on a raw political nerve for the coalition, shouting out "Altantuya!" -- the name of a 28-year-old Mongolian model murdered in Malaysia in October

And now our DPM finally came out to defend all the allegation towards him.

(Bernama) -- Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said today he would reply, within the law, to all the allegations made against him by the opposition political parties, including the claims linking him to the case of a murdered Mongolian woman.

The deputy prime minister and defence minister said he had already begun replying to the allegations.

"I will reply to the claims raised. I began to give my replies last night," he said when asked by reporters about the personal verbal attacks allegedly made against him by the supporters of the opposition parties outside the Ijok state by-election nomination centre at the Batang Berjuntai Community Hall, here.

During the process of nomination, from 9 am to noon, supporters of the opposition political parties, Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), PAS and the DAP, were heard shouting "Altantuya" and "Mongolia".

Najib said the opposition would raise similar issues during the campaign in the Ijok by-election, polling for which is on April 28.

"Of course ... it is okay, we will give the replies. We are not afraid of that," he reiterated.

Asked whether he would take legal action against whoever it was who had made the allegations, Najib said he held that option. "I don't have to sue him, but I have the option to sue him," he said.

The tension is up.

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