Govt must show zero-tolerance against assassination bid on Siti Kasim, says Bersih

PETALING JAYA: The attempt on Siti Kasim’s life should be classified as violence against human rights defenders and professionals, says the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih).

The electoral watchdog’s steering committee said the government must show a zero-tolerance attitude to this assassination attempt, which by using a bomb, constitutes an act of terrorism that may harm others.

“If this becomes a trend, it will cause as much harm as the use of 3R (race, religion and royalty) issues.

“Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim himself must make a clear stand that he will nip this attempt in the bud before such violence becomes part of our political and societal culture,” it said in a statement on Monday (July 24).

The statement comes following a car bomb incident where two bottles filled with wires were discovered behind the rear tyre of Siti Kasim’s car on Friday (July 21).

The police later confirmed that the objects were improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

Siti Kasim said the discovery was made by her mechanic at a workshop in Bangsar where she had left the car for servicing.

The Bersih steering committee added that Siti was not the first victim of such violence targeting human rights defenders and professionals in Malaysia, citing how Bill Kayong of Sarawak, another activist for indigenous rights like Siti, was assassinated in 2016.

“The hired killer was, however, sentenced to death while three businessmen who were charged, including one who fled to Australia, for abetting, walked free.

“Former Bersih chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah too received death threats with bullets and blood,” it added.

The steering committee added that the government should ensure Siti Kasim does not become another Bill Kayong and provide her (Siti) with bodyguards upon her request.

“We applaud the police for handling this seriously but such violence will only cease if the perpetrators and abettors are caught, charged and convicted.

“Stopping violence targeting human rights defenders and professionals is the duty of all parties, politicians, civil society groups and opinion leaders.

“Once this comes to be seen as a convenient way to silence dissents and critics, everyone stands a chance to be the next victim,” it said.

It also urged the media, professional bodies, and civil society groups to speak up and monitor responses from the Prime Minister, Home Minister, party leaders and politicians to see the perpetrators and abettors of this terrorist attempt be brought to justice soon.

“Journalists must remember that once Malaysia slips towards the direction of countries like Russia and Philippines, journalism would be one of the most dangerous professions,” it added.

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