Feb 11, 2009 By Adib Zalkapli and Lee Wei Lian
KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 11 — Despite a state-wide ban on political ceramahs, Pakatan Rakyat leaders vowed to defy police orders in Perak and said the ban was a sign of Barisan Nasional’s desperation to win the upcoming Bukit Gantang by election.
“We will defy this unfair rule. This is a calculated move to curb dissenting voices,” said PKR information chief Chua Tian Chang, adding that the ban would not stop the party from campaigning.
“I have expected the whole scenario; it is like a replay of Mahathir era in 1999 to 2000. This is a start of the series of crackdown. They want to have an unfair edge,” the Batu MP told The Malaysian Insider.
“It is a reflection of how desperate the government is,” said PKR vice president Dr Lee Boon Chye.
The Gopeng MP said the party would proceed with all the planned rallies in the state, but admitted that the ban would affect the party’s machinery in the Bukit Gantang by-election.
“Certainly it will affect our machinery with attacks from mainstream media, we will be at a disadvantage, but I don’t think voters will be fooled,” said Lee.
Meanwhile, Pas’ Asmuni Awi said the ban should not include ceramahs inside the party’s premises.
“Then it is too much and would be like putting Perak under siege. It won’t do any good. They are doing this due to impending elections in Bukit Gantang. We always do ceramahs well in advance and do not wait till after nomination day,” said the Perak Pas deputy chief.
Asmuni said ceramahs are the only way for the party to reach out to the public.
“The mainstream media is slandering us saying things like we are betraying the Sultan. But it is our right to defend ourselves. The mainstream media is very much influenced by the ruling party,” he said.
However Perak Umno believes that holding ceramahs is not the only way to campaign in a by-election.
“We can always do house to house visits, ceramah is only one of many things you can do in a campaign,” said Perak Umno secretary Datuk Ramly Zahari in urging all parties to abide by the rules.
Earlier today, Inspector General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan reportedly said that the police have banned any political rally in Perak until the political situation in the state improves.
Perak is in a constitutional crisis and political impasse as Pakatan Rakyat Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Nizar Jamaluddin has refused a royal command to resign after the coalition lost its slim majority to Barisan Nasional when three lawmakers defected.
Sultan Azlan Shah has sworn in Barisan Nasional’s Datuk Zambry Abdul Kadir as the state’s 11th Menteri Besar.