About 10,000 people gathered near Pasar Seni and Dataran Merdeka to remind the government of its unfulfilled promises.
KUALA LUMPUR: About 10,000 people gathered peacefully near Dataran Merdeka tonight where the Janji Demokrasi coalition and supporters of Save Jalan Sultan converged to remind the government of its unfulfilled promises.
While the Janji Demokrasi coalition wants electoral reform, the Save Jalan Sultan group is opposing the construction of the MRT. The crowd started gathering as early 9.30pm.
There was an air of fiesta despite police presence and Dataran Merdeka itself was cordoned off to facilitate the official Merdeka celebration tomorrow morning.
PAS deputy president Mat Sabu’s presence was greeted with cheers from the crowd. Also seen in the crowd was PKR vice-president and Batu MP Tian Chua.
National Laureate A Samad Said also arrived along with Empower executive director Maria Chin Abdullah – both also being the steering committee members of Bersih. Samad was expected to read out a poem before the gathering was officially called to an end just past midnight.
Earlier, more than 2,000 people from the Save Jalan Sultan group gathered at the Gospel Hall along Jalan Hang Jebat to protest the construction of the My Rapid Transit (MRT) line.
The crowd started congregating at around 8pm with many of them clad in yellow Bersih T-shirts. They demanded the government and the MRT project to stay away from the Jalan Sultan area.
Their protest was part of a matter that dominated the area for the past 13 months: the building of underground tunnels, which some argued would put heritage sites there at risk.
Preservation for Jalan Sultan Committee chief Stanley Yong Yew Wei told the crowd: “If it is to be built, what will happen to the memory (of Jalan Sultan)?”
They were also supported by Himpunan Hijau Raub, Janji Demokrasi and other activist groups.
They then demanded three things:
- withdrawal of the new gazetting of the land and its subsequent land acquisition.
- for the importance of public consultation to be realised.
- urging Malaysians to make a “wise decision” in the next general election.
Yong further warned that the committee would not hesitate to call for another rally to defend Jalan Sultan “if necessary”.
The crowd later marched from the Gospel Hall at around 9pm towards the Pasar Seni LRT station. They were accompanied by drummers and a lion dance troupe.
Along the way, they chanted “Defend our heritage!” and “Bersih!”
Many of them later made their way for the Janji Demokrasi rally, which started at nearby Dataran Merdeka at 11pm. The iconic square itself is cordoned off to facilitate the official Merdeka celebration tomorrow morning.
Asked later on what he meant by more rallies, Yong said: “Certainly one rally is not enough to translate our message clearly (to the government)… It is clearly a useful tool to bring solidarity among the people.”
He added that he did not see large rallies forming along Jalan Sultan in the future unless there was a need for it.
The committee’s supporters, he said, would gather at Parliament or at various ministry headquarters, instead.