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Burma and Malaysia instigate mob vi

Subject: Burma and Malaysia instigate mob violence

Burma and Malaysia instigate mob violence
The Times of India (12/11/96.)
By Harvey Stockwin
View Point
HONG KONG: The governments of two Southeast Asian 
nations, Malaysia and Burma, have both allowed, and 
instigated, the use of mob violence for political ends.
This development is hardly surprising coming from Burma, 
a military dictatorship. There, on Saturday a mob of 200 
youths, obviously allied to the regime, attacked the long-
denied victor in the 1990 military-organised general 
election, Aung San Suu Kyi, as she drove to meet some 
members of her party, the National League for Democracy. 
The military regime increasingly seems uncertain how to 
deal with Ms Suu Kyi's determined attempt to keep the 
flame of democracy flickering in Burma. Resorting to mob 
rules suggests desperation on their part.
But Malaysia is ostensibly democratic, and the use of a mob 
to end an unofficial conference by human rights activists on 
the issue of East Timor is bound to damage the nation's 
image. It is also likely to hurt Malaysia's ability to attract 
international meetings and conventions to its first class 
Two decades have passed since Indonesia annexed the 
eastern Portuguese half of remote Timor island. But the 
East Timorese struggle against Indonesia's often heavy hand 
still continues.
Indonesia's policy failure was symbolised this year when the 
Nobel Peace Prize was shared by East Timor's Catholic 
bishop and an East Timorese activist resident in Australia. 
Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has all along 
made it clear that Malaysia does not want to do any thing 
which will damage relations with   its   ASEAN     partner 
Deputy Prime Minister Ibrahim earlier said that the East 
Timor human rights conference planned for this past 
weekend by Malaysian and foreign activists would not be 
allowed to take place. Given the emergency powers legally 
possessed by any Malaysian government, Anwar, who was 
in charge  of   the   Malaysian while Mahathir is away 
visiting Africa,        could have banned the conference. 
Instead, the police acted as spectators while a mob, 
composed of members of the youth groups associated with 
the ruling National Front, rampaged into the conference, 
assaulted some of the activists, and made it physically 
impossible for the conference to even start. The police 
belatedly moved in and detained all those attending the 
conference. The foreigners are being expelled and deported 
from Malaysia. Some of the Malaysian activists are still 
being detained.
Seven members of the mob which disrupted the conference 
were briefly held but quickly released. Official complicity in 
the mob rule is underlined by a simple reality. Malaysia lives 
with the memory of how a brief moment of mob violence in 
Kuala Lumpur on the night of May 13, 1993 was allowed to 
extend itself into the worst racial riots the nation ever had 
Since then, the police have been very careful not to allow 
any mob violence, lest it quickly affect communal harmony. 
The fact Aung San Suu Kyi that, on this occasion, the police 
stood idly by, and let the mob do their work for them, can 
only mean that they had been given orders to do so.
The use of mob rule in an effort to please Indonesia is 
ironic, given that this year marks the 3Oth anniversary of 
the ending of "Konfrontasi," a conflict initiated by the late 
President Sukarno when he used mob rule in Jakarta to try 
and prevent the formation of Malaysia. The incident is 
bound to damage Malaysia's image as a law-abiding state, 
and diminish the reputation of Anwar Ibrahim, who have 
been speaking about human. rights and free speech.
Meanwhile, in Rangoon ' Aung San Suu Kyi was evidently 
unhurt by the mob attack although the windscreen of her car 
was shattered and Tin Oo, one of the NLD leaders, had a 
cut on his face from shattered glass.
As in Kuala Lumpur, so in Rangoon, official connivance in 
the incident was plain for all to see. The mob was led by 
men wielding walkie-talkies. These items cannot be legally 
possessed by private citizens in Burma. Diplomats were told 
by members of the mob that they were being paid 500 kyats 
each. Soldiers, normally quick to inhibit disorderly conduct, 
stood idly by while the 200-strong mob went on the 
Since some of the mob were seen carrying knives, this must 
give rise to fears that Burma's military regime may be 
thinking of assassination as a way of ending Ms Suu Kyi's 
agitation for democracy. They are certainly trying to 
intimidate her, so far without any success.