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100,000 rally ends peacefully

 | January 12, 2013

The crowd has spilled out of the stadium and Federal Reserve Unit personnel were conspiciuously missing.

KUALA LUMPUR: The opposition-organised Himpunan Kebangkitan Rakyat began at Stadium Merdeka here this afternoon without any problems.

Almost 100,000 people in and around the stadium have packed the historic venue to hear speeches from Pakatan Rakyat leaders.

Earlier at 1.48pm, the police estimated 30,000 people were inside the stadium with some 5,000 still outside. A large group of supporters numbering about 15,000 were still marching to the stadium.

They had marched from eight different locations in the city, namely Masjid Negara, Universiti Malaysia mosque, Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur City Centre, Jalan Sultan, Central Market, Kampung Baru and Dataran Merdeka.

By 2.15pm, with about 50,000 people inside the stadium, a series of speeches started. By 3pm, the crowd size inside and outside the stadium rose to about 100,000.

Many Pakatan leaders, including PKR leader Anwar Ibrahim, were also in the stadium.

Other leaders included PKR president Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang, DAP veteran leader Lim Kit Siang, DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng, Selangor Menteri Besar Khalid Ibrahim, PAS’ Mahfuz Omar, DAP’s Teresa Kok, Bersih co-chairperson S Ambiga and many others.

The mass gathering today for the first time witnessed the absence of the Federal Reserve Unit, usually used for crowd control. Only traffic policemen were clearly visible directing traffic and ensuring the city remained free of traffic congestion due to the rally.

Light shower just before the rally failed to dampen the spirit of the opposition supporters, as they braved the rain to join the rally.

The event was also incident-free except for a report from Utusan Malaysia this morning which said that a bomb was found outside KLCC, which was eventually detonated by the police.

However Dang Wangi police chief ACP Zainuddin Ahmad dismissed reports that two bombs were found in the city.

“It was just bags filled with papers. No explosives were found,” he told a press conference here.

Carnival-like atmosphere

Meanwhile, inside the stadium, a number of PAS’s Unit Amal personnel walked around to collect funds for the stadium’s RM100,000 rental.

“Donation, donation for stadium,” they said with loud speakers.

“We have to pay RM100,000 today, so we plead for public to donate money,” one of them added.

Outside the stadium, the situation was more carnival-like as vendors set up foodstalls on the road leading to the stadium.

Thousands of protesters who could not enter the stadium were seen carrying banners on various issues such as stateless Indians, oil royalty and the death of Teoh Beng Hock.

Meanwhile, Save Jalan Sultan committee member Stanley Yeong told FMT that they were in full solidarity with the 10 demands made at the rally today.

“The demands to preserve the kampung culture actually fits into our struggle,” he said.

The rally ended at 5pm after the reading of the 10 demands. PAS spiritual leader Nik Aziz Nik Mat, one of the very last speakers, thanked the police for their cooperation in ensuring the rally proceeded peacefully.

The crowd was then asked to disperse peacefully at the end of the rally, with the police once again guiding them out with the traffic.

Dataran Merdeka still out of bound

As the crowd dispersed from Stadium Merdeka, the police continued to cordon off Dataran Merdeka, located about 3km away.

About 100 police personnel have been deployed at roads heading to the historic square.

According to a senior police officer present at Dataran Merdeka, the lockdown was just part of a safety protocol to avoid protesters from gathering there.

The police will disperse as soon as they feel its safe, or once they are sure the protesters have cleared completely from the vicinity.

Reports by G Vinod, B Nantha Kumar, Leven Woon, G Lavendran, Jared Pereira, Natasha Lai and Prescilla Prasena

More photos here


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