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NEWS UPDATES 25 May 2009

Police raid Malaysia’s opposition headquarters

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Police raided a Malaysian opposition party's headquarters to search for seditious material, sparking accusations Sunday of a crackdown on political dissent, reported the Associated Press.

The hour-long search late Saturday marked the first time police had raided the Democratic Action Party's main office in its 42-year history, said the party's parliamentary chief, Lim Kit Siang. Plainclothes policemen entered the office without a search warrant and seized a computer and DVDs, he said.

The move comes amid an increasingly acrimonious battle for control of northern Perak state, which the ruling National Front coalition wrested from a three-party opposition alliance in February. The struggle has turned into an emotional fight between opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim and Prime Minister Najib Razak, who is struggling to revive the National Front's slumping popularity.

District police chief Abdul Jalil Hasan told the national Bernama news agency that the confiscated computer was believed to have been used to publish seditious pamphlets handed out during opposition demonstrations against the ruling coalition's takeover of Perak.

Anwar called the raid "an insult to the Constitution and the rule of law."

Teresa Kok, another opposition official, said it was a "scare tactic" to deter opposition demonstrations. Police have arrested dozens of people who took part in such protests in recent weeks, though most were eventually freed without any immediate charges.

The ruling coalition took over Perak after three state legislators left Anwar's alliance, causing it to lose the majority in the state legislature that it obtained in elections last year. It raised allegations that the National Front had orchestrated the defections through underhanded means.

On Friday, the Court of Appeals struck down an earlier ruling that declared the National Front's takeover of Perak unconstitutional.

The opposition weakened the National Front's majority in Parliament and won five of Malaysia's 13 states, including Perak, during last year's elections amid mounting public complaints over how the government was tackling problems such as corruption, racial tensions and economic worries.


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