PETALING JAYA, April 3 – Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said today he welcomed Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s vow to ensure a peaceful transition of power but appealed for an ethical campaign amid escalating political violence in the run up to Election 2013.
The opposition leader also made a fresh invitation to the Barisan Nasional (BN) chairman for a debate so both sides of the political spectrum may engage in a mature election driven by a fair contest of ideas.
“We welcome the statement made by Datuk Seri Najib Razak where he promised to ensure a smooth transition of power should Pakatan Rakyat (PR) win the 13th general elections,” Anwar told reporters in a packed press briefing held at PKR’s headquarters here.
In his televised address to announce Parliament’s dissolution this morning, Najib promised that there will be a peaceful transition of power should there be a change in the federal government after the 13th national polls.
“As an introduction to the 13th general polls, PR reiterates its invitation to Datuk Seri Najib Razak to defend BN’s record to us and we will table the brilliance of PR policies in a debate, so the people can make a fair and an informed decision,” the PKR de facto leader said.
The former deputy prime minister added that although the opposition was confident the authorities would act professionally in ensuring public safety during the campaign period, the prospect of violence was likely in light of escalating attacks against PR leaders in recent weeks.
He cited the disruption of the bloc’s ceramah in Johor Baru by alleged supporters of the ruling coalition last night as a sign that more aggression would come as Election 2013 heats up.
“It portrays the propensity for violence and the lack of ethics in campaigning. That is why I am appealing to our friends in BN to observe the basic ground rules,” he said.
PR leaders had recently charged that the muted response from the authorities, especially from Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, has fuelled the violence.
Hishammuddin admitted last Sunday that political violence in the country was worsening, but accused PR of exploiting the situation to sow hatred for the government and the police.
He also noted that more incidents of violence may occur during the campaign period of Election 2013, which is expected to be held in weeks, due to the shortage of policemen.
His statement drew flak from poll reform group Bersih 2.0 who urged the minister to censure Umno supporters for the threat or risk being blacklisted by the group for condoning political violence.
PR leaders said the minister’s remark was tantamount to endorsing political violence.
Anwar said today he hoped with Najib’s peace pledge, both PR and BN would work together to preserve public security and urge all parties to avoid causing any trouble.
The PKR de facto leader pointed out that PR had always promoted “mature politics” throughout the 12th Parliamentary term and will continue to adopt a similar approach during the campaigning period.
“Malaysians now have the opportunity to choose a new government that is strictly anti-corruption, puts the daily interests of the people, promoting a young leadership and continuing the aspiration of the people’s future,” said Anwar.
The opposition leader reiterated his confidence that PR would stand a chance of grabbing federal power at the upcoming polls tipped to be held either on April 20 or April 27.
“I am cautiously optimistic,” he said.