By Patrick Lee
UPDATED PETALING JAYA: Kota Raja PKR division chief candidate Kottapan Suppiah was allegedly attacked by Dr Xavier Jeyakumar and a group of his supporters at Bukit Naga yesterday.
Kottapan, who was convinced that the Kota Raja election was not being conducted in a fair manner, wanted the polling, which took place at the MBSA Bukit Naga hall, cancelled.
He informed the PKR headquarters about it and was told the election had been nullified. Kottapan then walked into the hall and tried to stop the ballot papers that were collected from being sorted out. He was also accompanied by fellow division chief candidate, M Telai Ambalan.
It was then that Jeyakumar allegedly hit Kottapan from behind.
"I turned around and I saw Jeyakumar coming at me," Kottapan told FMT from his hospital bed in Sri Kota Medical Centre.
He added that when Jeyakumar's supporters saw him hitting Kottapan, they too joined in and started beating up the latter.
Jeyakumar, who is also currently Kota Raja PKR division chief, is also a Selangor state exco member.
Kottapan said he was able to make a hasty getaway, but one of his associates, known only as Ayyasamy, was attacked by Jeyakumar's followers, who bolted the front door of the hall.
Hearing his friend groaning in pain, Kottapan made his way to the back entrance to try and help him. But he claimed he was suddenly set upon by 20 of Jeyakumar's supporters with chairs, motorcycle helmets and iron rods.
Kottapan said his two sons, aged 13 and 20, tried to stop the group from beating up their father. But the mob turned on his children and hit them. Both of his sons sustained injuries, including broken bones.
The fight was only stopped after a group of villagers from Kampung Bukit Naga, attracted by the commotion, came to Kottapan's rescue. They then dragged him to safety.
After sending his sons to the Sri Kota medical centre, he lodged a police report last night.
According to Kottapan, trouble first started during the voting process.
"We have 7,948 members in Kota Raja, according to a list from the PKR headquarters," he said. "But yesterday, I saw a new list and noticed that (the names of) more than 500 members had been taken off."
He added that Jeyakumar issued the amended list.
Kottapan also said that members were only allowed to vote if they showed an official receipt indicating they have paid their election fees.
According to him, although more than 3,000 Kota Raja PKR members were present at Bukit Naga yesterday, the total ballot count came up to only 1,207.
He said he has proof that Kota Raja PKR election officials were Jeyakumar's symphatisers, and were known to be friendly to PKR strongman Azmin Ali.
According to a letter made available to FMT, Kota Raja PKR members Mair Singh and his wife, Amarjeet Kaur, were both advised by a party election officer yesterday to vote for Jeyakumar.
"We were filling the ballot paper when a man named Subramani Rengasamy came to our table," said Mair, 82.
Identifying himself as an election officer, Subramani allegedly forced Mair to tick Jeyakumar's name on the ballot paper.
"That was not my choice," Mair said in his letter, adding that the officer claimed he had the right to look at the ballot papers.
A former police officer, Mair was disappointed at the officer's conduct. "I have come to understand that many voters have also been cheated of their voting rights," he added.
When asked if the rowdy episode had caused him to lose faith in PKR, Kottapan said, "No, it's still strong. I stood because of the support I received from grassroots members."
"But what has happened is shameful,” he added. "Jeyakumar is defaming me, and wants to kick me out. These kind of people must not be in the party."
Kottapan said Jeyakumar did not take kindly to his (Kottapan's) candidacy, adding that Jeyakumar started to spread rumours about him months before the election took place, including an alleged bankruptcy.
He also said he had received a call from party supremo, Anwar Ibrahim, who promised that he would take action after seeing a detailed report.