New Year's Eve concert cut short for safety

KUALA LUMPUR - The New Year's Eve concert at Dataran Merdeka had to be cut short to protect the safety of the musicians, said Kuala Lumpur mayor Datuk Seri Ahmad Phesal Talib.

The concert had to be stopped at about 11.30pm after some demonstrators threw water bottles onto the stage.

Policemen then rushed to the stage to prevent any untoward incident, and it was then decided that the concert should be cut short, forcing an abrupt end to the New Year celebration.

"We had to do it for the safety of the musicians. We had to act before the crowd turns violent. I had also told the people to be mindful of the children and families that were present to usher in the New Year at the dataran," he told a press conference yesterday after welcoming the first batch of tourists arriving in Kuala Lumpur via KTMB's Electric Train Service (ETS) 9303 Gold (southbound).

Ahmad Phesal said Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) had approved an expenditure of RM348,000 for the celebration that evening.

Commenting on the wastage due to the short-lived concert, Ahmad Phesal said guaranteeing the safety of the people was the priority.

"The musicians involved in the concert, including Amy Search and Zainal Abidin, were very cooperative," he said.

Ahmad Phesal also voiced his concern that the incident could affect tourists' perception of the country, especially since this is the Visit Malaysia Year.

"Groups may want to seize the opportunity during public gatherings to voice their grouses, but they should also think how this will affect the country's image," he said.

On another matter, Ahmad Phesal said DBKL has to date received 153,758 valuation notice objection letters.

"We are in the midst of putting up a panel that will include property valuers to looks into the letters. We expect to have the first briefing next week," he said.