Peaceful rally marred by attack on press (WITH VIDEO)


(The Sun Daily) – What was supposed to be a peaceful Labour Day Anti-GST (Goods and Services Tax) rally in the vicinity of Dataran Merdeka turned ugly at its tail end today when a handful of youths attacked press photographers.

In the 4.45pm incident, the attackers from a larger group of more than 30 youths, mostly clad in black and some wearing face masks reminiscent of the movie “V For Vendetta”, swung at those clicking at them.

Wooden flag poles and water bottles were also thrown towards the photographers as police officers looked on.

According to a statement by Malaysian Press Photographers’ Association (MPPA) secretary-general Mohammad Naim Firdaus Abdul Aziz, two photographers were hurt in the incident.

They had about an hour earlier challenged members of Jingga 13, an environmentalist group, but the situation was eased by the intervention of PAS’s Unit Amal members.

They also lighted up magnesium flares which produced orange smoke much to the surprise of the 30,000 crowd which had until then marched peacefully to the Bangunan Sultan Abdul Samad along Jalan Raja.

It is believed that the group which called itself “Anarchy” had piggy-backed on the Solidarity Anak Muda Malaysia (SAMM) group from the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre before converging in front of Dataran Merdeka.

Naim condemned the attack, saying that no one should have disturbed a peaceful rally.

He said the association may lodge a police report and take legal action against individuals involved.

Meanwhile, SAMM chairman Badrul Hisham Shaharin told reporters that the individuals were not part of SAMM, adding that he was apologising over the incident.

Earlier in the day, anti-GST protestors had gathered in various locations, including KLCC, Masjid Negara and Sogo before 11am to participate in the main rally organised by more than 90 NGOs, including Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC), Suaram, SAMM, Aliran, Sisters in Islam, and Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM).

The group had some 15 demands, including objecting to the implementation of GST, stopping the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) negotiations, implementing the minimum wages scheme, respecting worker’s and women workers’ rights, stopping the privatisation of public utilities and media freedom.

The groups then marched to Jalan Raja, as Dataran Merdeka, their initial place of gathering, was closed off due to repair work.

The scene was not unlike a carnival as the jovial and enthusiastic crowd chanted “Hidup Rakyat” (long live the people) and “Tolak GST” (reject GST) with speeches by PK de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

Kuala Lumpur Police Chief DCP Datuk Mohmad Salleh, in a statement, said that besides the ruckus that happened after the rally, the situation was otherwise under control.