KOTA KINABALU: Many of those who planned to participate in the May 1 Bersih May Day rally at Padang Merdeka here today have decided to opt out due to strong "protests" from the police.
Organising spokesperson Jannie Lasimbang said apart from getting a court order banning them from staging any rally at the location, the police had also warned the public not to be near it or they would be arrested.
Five locations - Padang Merdeka, Taman Chong Thien Vun, city park, Segama waterfront and Dataran Bandaraya - have been listed as restricted areas for the period of the court order until May 3.
"Many of those who initially wanted to take part in this rally have decided not to show up," said Lasimbang.
"However, there are still quite a number who will turn up from 3pm to 5pm, no matter what," she said.
Lasimbang, a former Suhakam commissioner, promised that she and the other participants would not cause any chaos or trouble nor cross any police barricades.
"The rally will register Sabahans' frustrations on some of the perennial problems plaguing our lives and our beloved country," she said, adding that it was also to highlight grouses ranging from illegal immigrants to land rights.
"We are confident that the rally will be peaceful and orderly as we have leaders and marshals as stakeholders who are highly committed to provisions under the Peaceful Assembly Act," Lasimbang added.
Meanwhile, police were already on standby at Padang Merdeka yesterday afternoon with police vehicles and personnel stationed around the area while barricades were put up to prevent people from entering the field.
On Monday, city police obtained the court order to bar the May Day gathering of over 52 civil societies.
State CID chief SAC Datuk Salehuddin Abdul Rahman said those present at the venue today would be questioned and faced arrests if they failed to state a valid reason for being there.