Pro-Malay rally in KL 'will not enter potential hot spots'

Organisers of tomorrow's pro-Malay rally have assured the Malaysian police that their march would not encroach into potential "hot spots" such as Bukit Bintang or Petaling Street, which are predominantly Chinese business areas.

The United Citizens' Gathering, also dubbed the Malay Dignity Gathering, was declared legal by national police chief Khalid Abu Bakar yesterday after the National Silat Federation (Pesaka), the official organiser, was given permission to use Padang Merbok, a field located away from Kuala Lumpur's Central Business District.

Sources said the authorities and those leading the rally had agreed on four meeting points - the National Mosque, the Federal Mosque, Putra World Trade Centre, where Umno's headquarters are located, and the Craft Complex - for participants, who will end their march at Padang Merbok. None of the routes leads them into the two "flashpoints".

"It will begin in the afternoon and end by sundown for Muslim prayers," a source said of the rally, which the police and the government had initially said was illegal.

According to one source, the authorities expect about 90,000 people to turn up and have set aside nearly 2,000 parking spaces for buses. Tan Sri Khalid, the Inspector- General of Police, said police would be deployed to ensure the safety of all in Kuala Lumpur. He urged Malaysians not to be taken in by rumours of non-Malays being told to stay away from the city.

Mall operators in Bukit Bintang have said it would be business as usual tomorrow, though some other traders said they might close their shops.

The rally was called to counter the huge Bersih rally held last month to demand Prime Minister Najib Razak's resignation.

The likes of Umno's Sungai Besar division chief Jamal Yunos, the rally's de facto spokesman, claimed that the Aug 29 to 30 protest was a plot by the Chinese community to usurp political power.

Datuk Seri Najib, Umno's president, insisted it was neither organising nor sponsoring the rally. But he said members were free to take part as long as they did not break the law.

The leaders at the four meeting points are from the ruling party. One of them is Datuk Puad Zarkashi, who heads the government's propaganda unit Jasa.

Despite Umno's denials, links to the party persisted after two letters came to light. One asked all divisions in Malacca to send at least 1,000 members each to support the rally, while the other revealed a Sept 4 meeting of state-level representatives to plan for the protest.

This article was first published on September 15, 2015.
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