Rally turns chaotic as protesters breach police lines in KL

Red Shirts

(Malay Mail Online) – Thousands of red shirts are thronging the city’s streets, pushing through several police cordons into the popular Bukit Bintang tourist hotspot, after they were previously allowed to march through the area.

As the groups charged through the barriers past shuttered shops, scores of uniformed enforcers are seen running helter skelter as they attempted to keep the situation under control.

Earlier, a minor face-off saw the police allow demonstrators march into the Bukit Bintang area but the group of red-shirted rally participants were later diverted to Jalan Sultan Ismail.

Reports on the ground indicate that the group then broke past at least four police cordons along Jalan Bukit Bintang, some chanting “Masuk, masuk” (enter, enter), despite a plea from organisers to stand back.

Participants eventually managed to march through Bukit Bintang. A police line has been formed along Jalan Bulan, which leads into the Low Yat Plaza area.

Outside the Putra World Trade Center, a large crowd of protesters have begun marching towards Padang Merbok, taking up both lanes on Jalan Kuching.

A large crowd has also arrived at Petaling Street but the police are trying to hold them back from breaking into the area.

Organisers tell the crowd not to break the police cordon, shouting: “We are Malays, we must show we are not like the Chinese in the DAP. We are dignified Malays who respect the police.”

At Padang Merbok, at least 1,500 protesters have gathered for the rally. Organisers told reporters that groups have begun pouring in from their respective meeting points across the city.

The thousands of red-shirted protesters had started arriving by busloads into the capital here since early this morning, in preparation for the mass gathering.

The rally officially called Himpunan Rakyat Bersatu” rally is organised by martial arts group Pesaka and has received support by several Malay groups, as well as unofficial support from many Umno leaders.

The ruling party has insisted that it does not endorse the event, which has also been alternately called “Himpunan Maruah Melayu”, but has not prohibited its members from participating.

The event is expected to kick off at 2pm at Padang Merbok, the venue that organisers Pesaka have successfully obtained permission to use from the City Hall and the police.

A central figure in the rally today is Sungai Besar Umno chief Datuk Jamal Md Yunos, who leads a coalition of 250 Malay groups that have been calling the event “Himpunan Maruah Melayu” (Malay Dignity Rally).

Jamal was also the one who gave rise to early fears of racial unrest with his warning for non-Malays to stay away during the rally to avoid provoking attendees, leading to murmurs of comparison with the 1969 race riots.

Although Jamal later retracted his warning, the remark along with posters promoting the event that alluded to violence already gave the rally an unshakeable image of aggression and hostility towards non-Malays.

Red Shirts