Malaysian protesters attack enforcement team during demolition exercise

File photo of a demolition exercise in progress in Malaysia.

BALIK PULAU, Malaysia - A demolition exercise on illegal food stalls and structures in Teluk Bahang turned ugly when a group of protesters attacked the enforcement team.

The protesters comprising several non-governmental organisations (NGOs), political leaders and the local traders surrounded Southwest district office principal assistant Abu Hasan Omar and Penang Land and Mines Department assistant officer Ismail Yahya as they were both showing them photos of the structures earmarked to be demolished.

A pushing and shoving game then transpired and during the 15-minute scuffle, Abu Hasan's shirt was torn. Police then had to escort him and Ismail away from the scene.

The authorities decided to abandon the exercise, leaving all the stalls still intact.

The drama started at about 10.15am when the authorities, comprising more than 50 officers and workers from various agencies, arrived in two trucks complete with a bulldozer.

On seeing this, the protesters, who were waiting in front of the stalls in front of Teluk Awak flat in Jalan Hassan Abbas, quickly rushed over to form a human barricade.

Led by Penang Perkasa Youth head Mohd Rizuad Mohd Azudin, they started to jeer and also caused a traffic gridlock as their actions attracted onlookers and visitors to the Penang National Park.

Teluk Bahang Small Traders Association chairman Mohd Redza Zainal Abidin said there were about 50 stalls doing business along Jalan Hassan Abbas for about 20 years.

He said about 20 traders received a letter on Dec 28 last year asking them to vacate their stalls.

Rizuad slammed Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng for practising double standards and allegedly picking on the Malay traders.

"Why was no action taken against the traders in Batu Ferringhi, Jalan Baru and Chulia Street where the traffic there are always bad?" he asked.

Balik Pulau OCPD Supt Mohd Hatta Mohd Zain said 35 policemen were present at the scene to prevent any untoward incident.

"Abu Hasan has lodged a police report. So far, no one has been arrested yet as the investigation is still ongoing," he said.