Thousands at rally despite Syed Hamid warning

Posted by SM Maulana

PETALING JAYA, July 6 – Thousands garbed in red t-shirts are crowding the Kelana Jaya Stadium today for a pump price rise protest and a pro-Anwar rally despite police calling it illegal.

At its peak, some 10,000 people were at the stands listening to speakers such as PAS treasurer and chief protest organiser Dr Hatta Ramli and Hindraf coordinator S. Jayathas while others patronised stalls selling food and party merchandise.

There were no untoward incidents reported at the carnival-like rally as Pakatan Rakyat has mobilised 2,500 marshalls to keep the peace. Police presence was minimal save for two mobile police stations.

Roads around the stadium were choked with traffic although many took the light rail transit to a nearby station. There were reports of police road blocks along the Federal and LDP highways that brought traffic to a standstill for miles.

Helicopters also hovered above as the crowd sought shelter from the blazing sun. There were a few die-hards who took to the microphone to vent their anti-government feelings.

“We are happy we don’t see a heavy presence of the security apparatus, which is a normal scene in our gatherings,” Dr Hatta said, adding helicopters were a usual feature at such protests.

The crowd chanted along with the speakers who called the government to cut pump prices, ringing the air with shouts of “Undur, undur! Undur BN! Turun, turun! Turun harga!”

“If the government doesn’t back down, the next time we hold a protest, it won’t be in a stadium. It’ll be in the streets!” a woman shouted to the crowd’s delight, most of whom ignored a government warning against the rally..

Home Minister Datuk Syed Hamid Albar said police will take action to keep public order and peace and called the public to boycott the rally.

“We won’t compromise if public safety and order is threatened. So don’t break the law,” Syed Hamid was quoted as saying by Mingguan Malaysia in the Sunday paper’s edition.

He said the authorities wanted to prevent possible chaos and trouble at the rally that began at 10am and will end at midnight. Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, who is facing fresh sodomy accusations, is due to speak at 9pm and launch a nation-wide roadshow to clear his name .

The rally was planned in early June after the government raised pump prices for petrol and diesel but has suffered a change of venue, dates and causes over the weeks culminating with Anwar’s new sexual misconduct claims headlining the event. A roster of top opposition leaders and performers are expected at the rally and there were band performances which were frowned by Anwar’s ally Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS) .

Syed Hamid charged the rally had ulterior motives and went beyond protesting the fuel price rises. “The police is there to protect the interests of the people and I hope our citizens can read the intentions and motives of those who clearly believe the ends justify the means,” he told the newspaper in an exclusive interview.
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