Myanmar nationals told to keep the peace

PETALING JAYA: Police are on the alert for any trouble here due to the general election in Myanmar, the first in that country in 25 years.

Deputy Inspector-General of Police Datuk Seri Noor Rashid Ibrahim said the situation there and in Malaysia would likely be peaceful.

But police must still be prepared in light of incidents earlier this year when Myanmar nationals of Islamic and Buddhist faiths reportedly clashed here, he added.

Eighteen Myanmar nationals were killed in several states with the bodies chopped up and parts strewn along highways or dumped somewhere, sometimes in suitcases.

The murders were linked to religious fervour and not politics, so police believe there would not be similar clashes over the outcome of the Myanmar polls, said Noor Rashid.

"Nevertheless, we are monitoring the community here," he added.

There are more than 400,0000 Myanmar nationals working in Malaysia, many of whom do odd jobs in restaurants and construction sites. Some are refugees and asylum seekers.

In Johor Baru, police warned Myanmar nationals in the state not to create trouble no matter the election result.

Acting police chief Deputy Comm Datuk Ramli Hassan said they were working with employers and various agencies to ensure that the situation remained calm.

As at press time, polling in Myanmar was reported to be going smoothly and without incident.

Before the general election, Myanmar President Thein Sein posted a four-minute video on Facebook, warning of bloodshed if his ruling military-backed party loses power.

Many observers believe the Opposition, led by National League of Democracy head Aung San Suu Kyi, will win.

The campaign period was free of violence but there are worries that the days ahead may not be so peaceful.

It has been reported that preliminary results will be known within 48 hours of the polls ending, but the full results will only be announced in about two weeks.