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Date: 26 Nov 1999
Opposition seeks audience with king to pledge peaceful election
KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 26 (AFP) - Malaysia's opposition Friday sought an audience with the king to formally pledge a non-violent election.
The move follows allegations by the ruling coalition that opposition supporters were planning to stage riots.
A spokesman for the National Justice Party, part of the opposition Alternative Front, said they were seeking to make a joint pledge with the ruling National Front in front of the king that the elections would be peaceful.
"We requested an audience to pledge to the Malaysian people in front of the king that the Barisan Alternatif (Alternative Front) will not resport to dirty tactics or to violence before, during or after the election," said spokesman Raja Petra Kamarudin.
"We are asking the Barisan Nasional (National Front) to go with us (to make the pledge)."
Raja Petra said the opposition was told by a palace official that any such audience would need approval from the Prime Minister's Department. The spokesman said he did not expect approval to be given.
"It is a symbolic gesture. We extend our hand to the Barisan Nasional. If they do not accept, fine. What is the harm in going to the king to promise peace, safety and security?"
A palace official who declined to be identified said the king had not yet seen the opposition's letter.
The official said "some things" had to be referred to the prime minister's department but said no advice from it had been received yet. "If the PM's office says no there is nothing we can do about it."
Newspaper advertisements for the National Front adverts have included photographs of street disturbances sparked by the jailing and prison treatment this year of ex-deputy premier Anwar Ibrahim, the Alternative Front's candidate for premier.
The advertisements carried the message that the opposition had "no respect for the law, no fear of the authorities (and) no regard for the safety of others."
Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has frequently alleged that the opposition is planning street clashes and has recalled the 1969 anti-Chinese race riots -- the most traumatic event here since independence in 1957.
The opposition has denounced the campaign as a "revolting lie" aimed at scaring the ethnic Chinese community into voting for the status quo.
Mahathir mounted a drive in the early 1980s to reduce the powers of the king and the state's hereditary rulers.