National laureate A Samad Said has called Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak's administration 'cruel' for cracking down on last Saturday's Bersih 2.0 rally in Kuala Lumpur.
"If we see what happened (on that day), it's cruel, I have said on my Twitter and Facebook that we are heading towards a police state," he said.
The soft-spoken and usually low-profile septuagenarian was recalling his experience during the July 9 massive rally in which leaders and supporters of electoral reform were sprayed with tear gas and water cannons.
In an exclusive interview with Malaysiakini today, the distinguished 76-year old poet and novelist who is popularly known as Pak Samad said that despite the government's denial of police high-handedness during the four-hour long rally, the world was watching.
"They (the police) have said that there was no brutality inflicted on members of the public, but we can see (what happened) in YouTube, they cannot lie," said Samad.
Turned into an icon of sorts for the Bersih 2.0 movement after being probed for his 'seditious' poem recital at its launch on June 19, Samad wanted Najib to resign.
Citing the Facebook page carrying that demand, he said that the now rapidly-growing number in that petition mirrored the people's sentiment.
"That is enough to reflect what the people are feeling right now," he said.
Losing touch with reality
The page has seen more than 187,000 people backing the quit call to Najib since five days ogo when the rally was broken up by police with tear gas and water cannons. The page titled '100,000 People Request Najib Tun Razak Resignation' was set up last Saturday when police picked up around 1,700 people during the mass protest.
The national laureate added that rule by families of elite in the country has resulted in leaders losing touch with the people.
"For 50 years this country has been ruled by elitist families. They live comfortable lives and the reports that reach them contain only nice things, they do not feel (the people's needs).
"Its time that the leadership came from the bottom and not from the top," Samad said.
He pointed out that with the exception of former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, all other prime ministers has been drawn from society's upper crust.
Najib is the son of the late prime minister Abdul Razak Hussein and nephew of former prime minister Hussein Onn.
"The leaders we have now are old, they cannot understand the aspirations of the young," he added.
Samad Said: Najib 'memang kejamlah'