Crowd forces its way through locked UM gates

KUALA LUMPUR - A crowd of a few hundred people have forced their way through the locked gates of Universiti Malaya (UM) where Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is scheduled to give a talk.

Anwar was supposed to deliver a ceramah at the university Monday night, prior to verdict of his appeal at the Palace of Justice in Putrajaya on Wednesday.

Despite a heavy downpour, a steady trickle of people were seen slowly making their way to Dataran Dewan Tunku Canselor, where Anwar was initially supposed to speak at 9pm.

UM had banned the talk and its deputy vice-chancellor (student affairs) Prof Datuk Dr Rohana Yusof said that staff members were told to leave at 4pm Monday to facilitate "electrical maintenance work" at several electrical substations in the campus.

By 7pm, the two main gates of the university were locked and heavily guarded by security personnel.

Students gathered outside the gate did not move despite heavy rain.

Those who tried to make their way out of the campus grounds were not allowed to exit, leaving students waiting on both sides of the gate.

At 8pm, a vehicle bearing the Pakatan Rakyat logo arrived and parked about 30 metres from the entrance to set up the sound system and platform for the ceramah.

It was reported that Anwar would deliver his speech outside the campus grounds if he failed to gain entry to the Dewan Tunku Canselor where the talk is to take place.

At around 8.30pm, protesting students negotiated for the guards to open the gate to allow the students inside to be let out.

Following several attempts to force the gates open, the guards opened it partially and asked the students inside if they wanted to join the others outside.

By 9pm, close to 300 students had gathered at the gate, but there was no sign of Anwar who was supposed to arrive there at 8pm.

At about 9.25pm, the gathered crowd then started rocking the gate, which caused the locks to give way and the crowd started streaming into the campus grounds, joining another group which had already gathered in front of the hall.

Anwar arrived at the UM entrance at 9.39pm, to a large cheer from the gathered crowd.

He then started making his way into the grounds, headed to the original venue where the talk was to take place.

Anwar started his speech at around 10pm, perched on the back of a pickup truck addressing the crowd with a megaphone.