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Anwar supporters warned of 'trap' during Mahathir visit to Japan

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 16 (AFP) - Malaysian supporters of ousted deputy premier Anwar Ibrahim were warned Friday to avoid falling into a "trap" during the five-day visit of Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad to Japan.

The warning, posted on one of the Internet sites supporting Anwar, followed Mahathir's departure for Tokyo late Thursday and his assertion two days earlier that "certain groups" were plotting to create "chaos" in the country.

Such groups are pushing for "mob rule and street justice," Mahathir said. He was apparently referring to the Malaysian People's Justice Movement, a coalition formed by three opposition parties and a dozen other groups late last month.

The Internet warning said Mahathir was trying to "mislead the people of this country to fall into his planned trap" and that the accusations against certain groups must be taken seriously by Anwar supporters.

"It is he who intends to create a chaotic situation that will give him justification to take sterner and more brutal actions against all those who would not bow to him in absolute subservience," it said.

The warning said "another mammoth demonstration" could take place Saturday following a gathering of some 10,000 supporters of Anwar in a downtown area of the Malaysian capital last weekend. The rally, which included women and children, was peacefully dispersed by police after five hours.

"Please do not rule out the possibility of the police becoming more aggressive and brutal in dealing with the crowd," the warning said.

"The police may be instructed to use very possible means to create a situation that would lead to serious chaos," it added.

"It is Mahathir's way to be away from the country whenever there is a problem to be faced," the warning said.

"Some of us may still remember the Baling, Memali tragedy. The order to attack the helpless people weas signed by Mahathir himself but at the time of the tragedy he was away in China. In this way, he can disown any blame."

The deadly Memali incident in Kedah refers to the November 19, 1985 tragedy when 18 people including four policemen died when a group of Moslem extremists challenged the security forces.

A White Paper on the incident said the extremists tried to spread deviationist teachings and disrupt public order.

Musa Hitam, then the deputy prime minister and home minister, was the acting premier since Mahathir was away in China.

"Let's hope a similar tragedy will not be repeated," the Internet warning said.

Mahathir would then be asked to rush back and would ask the king to declare a state of emergency, the warning added.

"Should this happen the prospect of democracy, human rights, civil liberties, rule of law, freedom of expression and the press in this country will be buried forever," it added.

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