Town hall by ex-Malaysian leader Ma­hathir marred by vi­o­lence

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

A town hall meet­ing with former Malaysian Prime Min­is­ter Ma­hathir Mo­hamad, who now heads an op­po­si­tion coali­tion, was marred by vi­o­lence yes­ter­day, with sev­eral peo­ple hurl­ing flares, chairs and shoes at the stage. The 92-year-old Ma­hathir, who has set up a new po­lit­i­cal party to try to oust Prime Min­is­ter Na­jib Razak in elec­tions due by mid-2018, was an­swer­ing ques­tions at the fo­rum, hosted by his party, when chaos erupted. Shoes, wa­ter bot­tles and chairs were flung at the stage be­fore two flares were ig­nited, fill­ing the hall with smoke and turn­ing it bright pink.

Ma­hathir was safely es­corted out of the hall. Fo­rum or­ga­nizer Syed Sad­diq Syed Ab­dul Rah­man said sev­eral peo­ple were in­jured but couldn’t give de­tails on the ex­act num­ber or their con­di­tion. Po­lice said three peo­ple, rang­ing in age from 17 to 19, were de­tained. Syed Sad­diq slammed the dis­rup­tion as “sab­o­tage,” say­ing of­fi­cials from Ma­hathir’s Ber­satu party had ear­lier no­ticed a group of youths wear­ing T-shirts with fake lo­gos of Ber­satu’s youth wing.

Op­po­si­tion law­maker Azmin Ali said: “Na­jib is us­ing gang­ster­ism to shut Ma­hathir’s mouth. It’s a cow­ardly act.” There was no im­me­di­ate com­ment from the gov­ern­ment. While it was un­clear who was be­hind the fra­cas, it high­lights that Ma­hathir - Malaysia’s prime min­is­ter for 22 years be­fore step­ping down in 2003 - is seen as a po­lit­i­cal threat. Ma­hathir has been spear­head­ing calls for Na­jib to re­sign over a multi­bil­lion-dol­lar fi­nan­cial scan­dal in in­debted state fund 1MDB, which is be­ing in­ves­ti­gated in sev­eral coun­tries for money laun­der­ing. Na­jib has de­nied any wrong­do­ing. Ma­hathir came out of re­tire­ment to set up Ber­satu last year and was re­cently ap­pointed chair­man of a frac­tured op­po­si­tion coali­tion.

— AP

SHAH ALAM: Flares hurled by pro­test­ers rise dur­ing a fo­rum of former Malaysian Prime Min­is­ter Ma­hathir Mo­hamad.

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