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‘Dataran can only fit 100,000′

 | April 7, 2012

Preliminary mapping shows that Dataran can only fit about 100 000 people despite Bersih's call for 500 000 for the rally demanding for free and fair elections.

PETALING JAYA: The upcoming Bersih 3.0 sit-down assembly may not see the anticipated 500,000 people gathering in Dataran Merdeka simply because a mathematical estimation showed that the venue can only pack-in ‘about 100,000′ individuals.

PoliTweet.org a research organisation which studies twitter interaction, constructed a polygon map on the area and estimated that Dataran Merdeka can only handle a maximum of 118, 000 people.

Previously, the organisation had also done a similar crowd mapping after the Bersih 2,0′s July 9 rally and estimated that around 45,000 to 50,000 had particpated.

According to Politweet, the polygon was done on a rough measure of “space available in Dataran Merdeka and adjacent roads”.

“After reducing the polygon to account for obstacles such as buildings, pillars, gates etc, the biggest capacity for the venue is 90, 000 to 100, 000 people,

“An additional 18 000 people can fit into Jalan Raya, Leboh Pasar Besar and Jalan Mahkota Persekutuan,” said the organisation on its Facebook page.

Speaking to FMT, its founder Ahmed Kamal Nava  said that the total dataran merdeka space was around 516,000 square feet (sq ft) but after reduction of impassable areas the area’s width was 470,000 sq ft.

“I used a crowd density factor of 5sq ft per person, which is a bit loose. It could be 4sq ft, in which case the range would be 111,000 to 123, 000,” he said,

He added that physically it would be impossible to fit in 500, 000 unless nearby areas are occupied as well.

“People would have to take up surrounding roads as well and stretch in all directions to Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur (DBKL), Masjid Negara and all the small roads across the river – Medan Pasar, Jalan Hang Kasturi, Jalan Tun H.S.Lee and so on,” he said.

However Ahmed Kamal cautioned organisors from deriving to any conclusion merely based on this preliminary polygon.

“I think its better to wait until the event is over and I have photos to base the polygon on. The size of the venue isn’t that important right now.

“For any protest, rally organisors will try to get as many people to come. If they can’t fit in the venue then the crowd will break up or stretch in other directions, as we saw in the last Bersih rally,” he said.

‘No compromise on venue’

Bersih’s S Ambiga said on Wednesday that a crowd number would be tough to estimate in Malaysia as there would protests held simultaneously nationwide and as well as abroad.

However, her co-chairman national laureate A Samad Said, said that based on public feedback he will put the figure at 500 000.

He said that since the last rally, people have constantly approached him through email, Facebook and on the street asking, “When is the next one”.

Bersih officially announced on Wednesday that it will launch another protest on April 28 in Dataran to demand for reforms to the electoral system before the 13th general election.

This protest was a result of the disappointment over the 22 point Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) report on electoral reform.

Bersih said although the report made some “sound” recommendations, it however dealt with crucial matters such the integrity of the electoral roll in a “cursory” manner.

Already the plans to hold the event at the historical site has hit a glitch as Minister in the Prime Minister’s department Nazri Abdu Aziz said that the area was not gazetted for peaceful assembly.

Ambiga has responded that there will be no compromise on the venue.


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