Plan to stage second pro-government street protest this month in area of capital where they were previously dispersed with water cannon
By P Prem Kumar
KUALA LUMPUR – Pro-Malay groups are planning to stage their second pro-government street protest this month on Saturday in an area of the capital where they were previously dispersed with water cannon.
Official spokesperson Jamal Yunos has warned of “another commotion” at Petaling Street — a predominantly Chinese commercial district and tourist hub with more than 500 small shops selling a wide range of products — if demands by his “Red Shirt” protesters are not met.
The group wants the government to stop the alleged sale of counterfeit goods in the area, for traders to share a portion of their income with other races, and what they call “the prevention of an ethnic monopoly” in the area.
Police have declared the rally illegal and have said they will mobilize on the street as a precautionary measure.
“Petaling Street will be safe to visit on Saturday and we will ensure that,” Deputy Inspector General Noor Rashid Ibrahim told Anadolu Agency in a text message Friday.
The demonstration is being organised in the aftermath of a racially charged Sept. 16 rally – primarily aimed at intimidating the Chinese minority – which saw around 2,000 people fight police as they tried to enter the district before being dispersed with water cannon.
High profile Malaysian politicians have since condemned the rally, accusing Prime Minister Najib Razak and his ruling ethnic Malay-based party of being behind it.
Selangor Chief Minister Azmin Ali has said that it was clearly intended to shore up support for Razak’s embattled United Malays National Organisation (UMNO).
“Is this UMNO’s best idea for restoring Malay dignity? Bussing in thousands of plantation farmers and party members from the states and setting them loose like an angry lynch mob?” he said.
Police have detained Yunos, but he has denied involvement in organizing the rally.
He had however threatened another protest at Petaling Street if demands made during the original demonstration were not met.
The Star reported Kuala Lumpur Hawkers and Petty Traders Association Chairman Ang Say Tee as saying Friday that over 400 shops in the area were considering closing Saturday for fear of further chaos.