Posted by SM Maulana
Some 2,000 protesters marched through the Malaysian capital Friday in the largest of a series of demonstrations against last week’s steep fuel price hike.
2,000 play ‘cat and mouse’ with cops
The protesters, led by the Islamic opposition party PAS, called for Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to quit over the decision to raise petrol prices by 41 percent, and warned of further demonstrations if he refuses to back down.
“We want to show how unhappy the Malaysian public are with the oil price rise,” said Salahuddin Ayub, PAS youth chief and rally organiser.
“The government has forced us to the streets to demand a reversal of this disastrous policy. This is more than a wake-up call for the PM,” he told AFP.
“This is a message to the government. If they don’t act, we will have one million people turn up on July 5 to demand action.”
Since the price hike, opposition parties have organised a few smaller protests that they say will culminate in a major demonstration on July 5.
On Friday, the crowd that congregated at an inner-city mosque after Muslim prayers had planned to march to the city’s iconic Petronas Twin Towers, where dozens of police were stationed in preparation.
But faced with a police blockade near the mosque, rally organisers changed direction and proceeded into the crowded downtown district, causing serious traffic snarls as they sat down at a major intersection to make speeches.
“Overthrow the policy” they chanted, as they called for the destruction of the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition.
“We must support the people’s rights to demand more help from the government because we are suffering from this price rise,” said Siti Anisah, a 45-year-old clerk wearing a blue headscarf and traditional “baju kurung” flowing garments.
“I think there will be more protests because we definitely don’t want to pay so much more. How do I feed my children? she asked.
The protesters then marched to the steps of the PAS party headquarters before dispersing peacefully. – AFP