Despite bomb threats and a call to overthrow the government, last night's rally was peaceful
KUALA LUMPUR: Despite rumours of plans to overthrow the government and possible bomb threats, the New Year’s eve celebration cum protest led by Gerakan Turun Kos Sara Hidup (TURUN) ended here peacefully without any major untoward incident.
Thousands of rally goers opposing the recent price hikes of goods and services gathered as early as 7pm at three different locations in the heart of Kuala Lumpur before marching towards City Hall (DBKL) at around 9pm.
Police on the other hand, professionally handled the strong crowds and successfully maintained law and order with the help from City Hall enforcement officers although in several occasions they were outnumbered by the large crowds trying to enter Dataran Merdeka.
“You can’t enter the Dataran Merdeka, people are here to celebrate, do it somewhere else,” Dang Wangi District Police Chief, Zainuddin Ahmad told protesters at one point.
However, at 11pm a small group of protesters managed to squeezed into the police barricade to join the revelers in the square shouting anti government slogans subsequently causing the ongoing concert to stop and lights were turned off.
It is also learnt that a water bottle was allegedly thrown directly at the performers during the concert. Later during a press conference, police confirmed that no one was arrested for the offence but assured an investigation was underway.
Kuala Lumpur Mayor, Ahmad Phesal Thalib who was present, had initially tried to calm the situation as he addressed the protesters but it was met with jeers from the protesters.
On the contrary, Solidariti Anak Muda Malaysia (SAMM) founder, Badrul Hisham Shahrin received huge reception from the crowds as he gave a speech right in front of the stage where the Mayor had earlier addressed the crowd.
At around 1am, the large crowd which had occupied Dataran Merdeka agreed to disperse smoothly after agreeing terms with the police.
Meanwhile speaking to reporters after the celebration, OCPD Zainuddin Ahmad said the concert was stopped ten minutes before the stroke of Jan 1, 2014 as the police did not want it disrupted by the protesters.
He confirmed that the rally organisers did not apply for a permit, thus making it an offence under the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012.
“Tonight’s celebration was disturbed by these hecklers and the concert had to be called off,”
Zainuddin added that his men tried to stop the protesters from marching into the Dataran Merdeka but the police were overpowered as the crowd barged into the barricade.
When asked on why the cops did not make any arrests, Zainuddin said that his order was just to monitor and control the situation.
“My men were injured during the incident as we tried to stop them from entering,”
“We did not arrest anyone as did not want to get aggressive. We monitor and assess the situation. But we will also conduct an investigation regarding this matter. We might also have to investigate opposition politicians who were present during the protest,” he said.
Last night’s protest was inspired by the recent prices hikes announced by the government including assessment rates for KL properties, public transportation and toll rates.
News of bomb threats began circulating via internet yesterday evening as police had arrested a man in Ampang for allegedly making home made bombs.
A week earlier, two men was arrested as news of a movement calling the public to overthrow the government had been circulated through online media channels.