Tempers flared when the City Hall officers ordered the protesting students to vacate Dataran Merdeka.
Tempers flared when DBKL officers had asked some 25 students, who had been camping there since Saturday demanding that the government provides free higher education, to leave.
“We didn’t want to leave and so they roughed us up. They also tore down the tent which we were camping under,” said Syukri Razab, representative from Solidarity Mahasiswa Malaysia (SMM).
It is learnt that the students were camping under three tents but removed two of the tents after being told to leave. However, they insisted on leaving the last tent as a symbol of their protest.
Student Muhamad Alif Asyraf said he suffered a minor gash due to the scuffle.
“I was holding on to the tent and they pushed me aside, then a small scuffle broke out,” he told FMT
Meanwhile, fellow student Haziq Abdul Aziz said this was not the first time that DBKL had disrupted their protest.
“Yesterday, they were here twice. They took two tents and spoilt one yesterday evening. They have been keeping a close eye on us since Saturday,” added the first-year law student.
Refusing to back down, the students were now holding up banners and chanting slogans for the PTPTN (Higher Education Loan Fund) to be abolished.
Najib’s response ‘disappointing’
Meanwhile Mohd Syahid Zaini from Malaysia Bangkit said that the students regretted the authorities’ behaviour as their right to assembly was guaranteed under article 10 of the constitution.
“We were roughed up by DBKL…punched and beaten. We condemn DBKL’s behaviour against students who were camping peacefully without causing any disruption to the peace.
“Even the tourists who were passing by sought clarification about us without feeling threatened,” he told reporters at a press conference held here.
On Saturday, the students said that they will occupy Dataran Merdeka until either the Prime Minister, Najib Abdul Razak or the Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin met with the protesting students.
Today, the students announced that they will stay on at Dataran until April 28 when Bersih is scheduled to hold their third rally.
Due to Najib’s “disappointing” response to the protesters, Mohd Syahid said that he now posed the PTPTN problem to the King instead.
“In conjunction with the “Konsert Di Raja” (Royal Conserts) which will be held from April 17 to 21, we are now posing the question to him so that the (PTPTN) problem will get adequate attention,” he added.
Despite having been in Dataran Merdeka for three days, the student protesters have only just informed the Kuala Lumpur mayor, Ahmad Fuad Ismail of their activity. They had faxed a letter to the mayor’s office around lunch time.
Earlier PKR, vice-president Tian Chua dropped by shortly to see the protesters and also voiced his concern over DBKL’s behaviour.
Khaled: Return the loans
Meanwhile, Higher Education Minister Khaled Nordin when asked this morning, challenged these students to return the loan money currently used to fund their education.
The student erected two more tents under the watchful eyes of a handful of police and a van load of DBKL authorities as the crowd of reporters began to disperse.
Meanwhile, Anak Muda Bersih who are youngsters in support of electoral watchdog Bersih’s rally pledged their support for the April 28 gathering.
Thirty-nine student groups have pledged their support for the gathering due to the persisting irregularities in the electoral roll.
They also promised a “major” announcement to be made tomorrow night when the group will launch their official support for Bersih 3.0.
Also present today was PKR’ Badrul Hisham and student activist Adam Adli.