SUNGAI PETANI, 1 Apr 2009: Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) adviser Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim didn’t say the “A” word, but it didn’t stop his own party leaders from mentioning Altantuya Shaariibuu at a ceramah here last night.
PKR supreme council member and Padang Serai Member of Parliament (MP) N Gobalakrishnan told the more than 1,000-strong crowd at Taman Kelisa Ria: “For the Barisan Nasional (BN), Altantuya is a ghost, but for good citizens she is a human being like any other.”
He said that it was the rakyat’s right to ask questions about Altantuya’s murder, as she had lived peacefully in places like Hong Kong, Singapore and Paris.
“But in Malaysia she was brutally murdered, so we should ask what happened here,” he said, to laughter and applause.
PAS MP for Kuala Terengganu, Abdul Wahid Endut, and PKR MP for Machang, Saifuddin Nasution Ismail, also peppered Altantuya references liberally in their ceramahs.
Yesterday, the police said political parties were not allowed to talk about the Mongolian model who was blown up with C4 explosives or the Sultan of Perak’s decision in not dissolving the state assembly at political party ceramahs.
However, PKR has said it would defy the ban.
Saifuddin, who is also PKR supreme council member, said that a vote for BN’s Datuk S Ganesan in Bukit Selambau would be equivalent to supporting incoming Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
Najib is still perceived to be somehow involved in Altantuya’s murder despite his repeated denials of ever meeting her.
Today, Kedah police said they were aware that the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) was still mentioning the Altantuya Shariibuu case and the Perak constitutional crisis in their ceramahs.
Its media officer, Superintendent Hamzan Darus, said in a press conference, “Ceramah speakers are warned not to touch on any matter or issue which is still pending court judgment.”
He also said that ceramah speakers were not allowed to touch on matters which violated the Sedition Act and “other laws of the land”.
The ceramah at Taman Kelisa Ria was organised by a local group of Hindraf – also known by their rallying cry of Makkal Sakthi – members.
This was even though the group’s Penang deputy coordinator, R Sanjeeviramah, had announced that it would not support PKR in Bukit Selambau.
The announcement was made to protest against PKR’s decision not to field Hindraf national coordinator RS Thanenthiran as the PKR candidate in Bukit Selambau.
However, last night’s ceramah organiser, S Chandran, said that by Makkal Sakthi’s estimate, 95% of all Indian Malaysian voters have remained PR supporters ever since the Hindraf rally of 25 Nov 2007.
He denied that Makkal Sakthi was unhappy with PKR candidate S Manikumar, as claimed by supporters of the Penang-based Thanenthiran.
“Thanenthiran is on his way out,” said Chandran.
Taman Kelisa Ria is located in the voting district of Bukit Rusa.
The roads leading from Sungai Petani town to Bukit Rusa were unlit and winding, but the ceramah center was packed with parked cars and an eager, multi-racial crowd by 10pm last night.
According to Election Commission figures, Bukit Rusa has 667 out of 35,140 registered voters in Bukit Selambau.
A total of 71.1% of the voters here are Indian Malaysians, 23.2% Malay Malaysians, and 5.5% Chinese Malaysians.