Chaos reigned as projectiles were thrown, smoke filled the hall and fighting broke out after a participant questioned Mahathir about the Memali incident of 1985, bringing the forum to an untimely end.
The Nothing To Hide 2.0 forum featuring a no-holds barred session with Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad turned ugly after several individuals created a ruckus by throwing objects, including a slipper and bottle, towards the stage.
The incident occurred midway through the session today when Mahathir was standing on stage and answering a question on the Memali tragedy where 14 villagers and four policemen were killed in a confrontation between the police and an Islamic cult in November 1985 in Kedah when Mahathir was prime minister.
“They (protesters) only used knives and sharpened bamboos, Tun? How can you justify (the force)?
“Why, Tun? They were Malaysians. They were Malays, villagers. They were not Jews or Zionists,” a man said.
Dr Mahathir, responding calmly, said, “Four policemen were killed. What do you think they killed them with? What the police did was proportionate with the force, it was their SOP”.
A bottle was suddenly seen being flung from the audience towards the stage and the Dewan Raja Muda Musa hall erupted into chaos as chairs and flares were also thrown. Dr Mahathir and moderator Azhar Harun, who
Mahathir and moderator Azhar Harun, who were on stage, did not react when the commotion broke out.
In what was believed to be a staged attempt at sabotaging the Nothing to Hide 2.0 event, bottles were also thrown at the crowd when Mahathir was taking questions from the audience.
A mass brawl was sparked off after security personnel were forced to retaliate.
Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) members rushed on to the stage to protect Mahathir who was quickly escorted out of the hall together with his wife and other Opposition politicians.
The forum was attended by mostly members of PPBM.
The fight between PPBM members and the unidentified provocateurs spilt outside the venue and into the parking lot.
After a while, the master of ceremonies announced that the programme had ended and the session was suspended.
Outside the hall, sporadic fighting took place as suspected troublemakers were pursued. Most of the suspects appeared to be youths in their early 20s.
No police officers were seen during the fracas.
PPBM supporters later detained at least two suspected troublemakers, who appeared to have taken some beating.
They were later handed to the police.
lim Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Najib Abdul Razak had been invited to debate Mahathir but he was a no-show.
The event got off to a slow start with Mahathir delivering his usual salvos against Najib but something appeared amiss during the question-and-answer session as several confrontational questions were hurled at Mahathir.
After the incident, PPBM youth chief Syed Saddiq Rahman hailed a Chinese DAP youth worker as a hero for risking his life to save a group of Malays from assailants.
Visibly moved, Syed Saddiq told reporters that the worker, by the name of Daniel Low, carried out his duty as a security worker by taking a beating to protect a group of Malays from getting hurt.
“You say there is racism but…” Syed Saddiq said, before he paused to control his emotion. “this guy, he is from DAP…when the incident happened he didn’t run backwards. Instead, he went in (and used his body) to protect those who were attacked.”
He also claimed that PPBM Youth T-shirts were distributed for free amongst alleged agent provocateurs prior to the forum, with the intent for them to slip into the event and cause harm to Mahathir.
Syed Saddiq said they took off the T-shirts when they ran.
Piles of red T-shirts, allegedly worn by the provocateurs, were displayed during the press conference.
Shah Alam district police chief Shafien Mamat told reporters that three suspects, aged 17, 18 and 19 have been detained following the incident. The 18-year-old and 19-year-old youths were private college students studying in Shah Alam.
Shocked by the pandemonium that erupted at the forum, former law minister Zaid Ibrahim asked, “Is this a prelude to a suspension of the 14th general election?
“Is this the beginning of the end for our country? Today we saw thugs disrupting a peaceful dialogue session. I wonder what the prime minister and his deputy have to say,” FMT quoted him as saying.
Former information minister Zainuddin Maidin shared the same sentiment, expressing doubts on the conduct of the next general election.
“If such a thing can happen now, we cannot rule out the possibility that it might also happen during the election,” Zainuddin told FMT.
He added that there is a need to double security for Mahathir.
Selangor Menteri Besar Azmin Ali condemned the attack as the work of “cowards”, while Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng described the melee as “shocking and revolting”.
“We will not desist but resist and persist,” Lim told FMT.