By Clara Chooi
KUALA LUMPUR, May 9 — Senator Tunku Abdul Tunku Ibrahim said today he had “withdrawn” from seeking a renewal of his senatorship after the DAP leadership told him his anti-Bersih 3.0 views had raised “differences” within the party.
He told reporters in Parliament here that he had not wanted to push for the position, despite his interest in extending his tenure, if it caused uneasiness among some members and leaders of DAP.
“I withdrew myself. I gave them the option, instead of them saying — we don’t want you anymore.
“What they said was: there may be some differences within the party because of what you said (against Bersih 3.0). So I said, if that’s the case, if it’s going to cause embarrassment, do not put my name up (for renewal). I do not want to push myself for this position,” he said.
Tunku Abdul Aziz’s senatorship, which he has held since 2009, expires this May 30.
The veteran leader, who is among the few Malays in the Chinese-dominated DAP, had first earned the party’s strict rebuke when he spoke against Bersih 3.0 before its gathering on April 28, saying that the movement’s refusal to accept the authorities’ offers to hold the event elsewhere, showed that it was merely encouraging Malaysians to break the law.
Tunku Abdul Aziz had pointed out at the time that laws should not be broken under any circumstance, adding that as a lawmaker, he would not support such an event.
But in response, DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng rebuked the senator for his remarks, which he said had not only gone against the party’s general stand in supporting Bersih, but had also brought embarrassment to the party’s leadership.
When the April 28 rally turned violent, as Tunku Abdul Aziz had predicted, the leader came out again to say that rally-goers were not completely “blameless” for the violence, again earning the ire of his party colleagues.
But despite this, Tunku Abdul Aziz said he had no plans to leave the DAP, saying it was normal to differ from the party’s stand occasionally.
He continued to speak out against Bersih 3.0, saying that while he may support the movement’s demand for free and fair elections, he was against its insistence on holding the rally at Dataran Merdeka although the authorities had barred them from doing so.
Such a move, he said, was likely to incite incidents of violence, which it did on April 28 after protesters breached the square’s barricades, triggering action from the police.
“As an elderly person, I am used to things like this... they start peacefully, but at the end of it, there are those in the crowd who want to cause chaos,” he pointed out.
Police fired tear gas canisters and chemical-laced water to disperse protesters during the event, which later saw violent clashes that resulted in reports of injury and allegations of police brutality.
Tunku Abdul Aziz disagreed, however, when asked if he felt that the violence could have been avoided if the authorities had agreed from the start to allow the election watchdog Bersih to use Dataran Merdeka for its protest.
“No, I don’t think so. You know, we talk about our rights but have you ever heard us talking about our obligations?
“It’s always — my right, my right, my right. But we are not responsible for the security of the country... who is responsible is the government, the police,” he said.
Tunku Abdul Aziz added that Bersih had lost sight of its cause by insisting that its event be held at Dataran Merdeka, pointing out that the objective of the rally was not about the venue but the push for free and fair elections.
“You can have it under a durian tree, it does not matter — as long as you get what you want, which is free and fair elections,” he said.