Petaling Street fracas 'due to provocative messages'

Petaling Street fracas 'due to provocative messages'
PHOTO: Reuters

KUALA LUMPUR - The altercations between protesters and police at the Himpunan Rakyat Bersatu was a small incident and stemmed from provocative messages, said Malay NGOs coalition president Datuk Jamal Mohd Yunus.

In a press conference outside Putra World Trade Centre Thursday, Jamal alleged that a group called Otai Reformasi distributed pamphlets containing provocative messages around Petaling Street on Wednesday and it riled some of the protesters at the rally.

"I was called by the police. They asked me to come and help.

"We had negotiations and discussions with the protesters and I said I will help solve their problems," he said.

Though the group at Petaling Street was not linked to his coalition, Jamal pledged to help them and defended their action.

"Firstly, they do not like the traders selling fake goods, illegal and porn CDs. In Pasar Malam, the authorities confiscate fake goods and CDs, but why is it special for Petaling Street.

"Secondly, there are many foreigners doing business there. I do not see any Malaysians there.

"Thirdly, Petaling Street is a tourist area. You should be selling our products and crafts ... Not fake stuff!

"Lastly, why were such pamphlets distributed. I saw many on the streets. That's why protesters were riled," he said to reporters.

Jamal said he would hold talks with officials from the Domestic, Trade, Co-operatives and Consumerism Ministry about the issues in Petaling Street.

He warned that if any action was not taken, the protesters would come back to Petaling Street again and this time, they would come in full force.

"The protesters said more than 10,000 will come again if nothing happens but the date is not known yet," he said.

Jamal also urged the police to investigate the Petaling Street fracas but told them to be fair during investigations.

"Do not just blame the protesters yesterday. Also look at the Otais. They provoked these guys. And it is not just them, I would be mad, too.

"Don't just accuse them of things. Be fair to them," he said.

He reiterated that the protesters were not enemies with the Chinese traders and they were there looking for Otai Reformasi members. Jamal was brought in to speak to the crowd and eventually managed to get them to disperse at about 7.15pm Wednesday.

Police blocked access to Petaling Street and Bukit Bintang during the rally.

At 7.42pm, police and the Federal Reserve Unit personnel stood down from barricading the entrance to Petaling Street.

Both sides of Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock were eventually opened at 8.04pm.

KL police chief Comm Datuk Tajuddin Md Isa said two rally-goers, aged 24 and 30, were held and being investigated for instigating the crowd to breach the police barricade in Petaling Street.

Jamal said Wednesday's rally was a success as many came out to support the country's leadership and the Constitution.

"More than 350,000 came for the rally. We can't fit all in the field, so some were scattered. It was a success," he said.

Although the protesters were Malays, Jamal said the rally showed that the people were united and that non-Malays did not come because there were provocative messages being circulated on social media.

"Many were misled by pictures and videos on social media saying there will be fight and riots.

"Look at Padang Merbok yesterday, it was peaceful. Not just Umno members, but I was told that PAS and PKR members were also there," he added.

Jamal said they would gather again if Bersih organises another rally and this time, they would join them and make their feelings known.

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