Friday, July 04, 2008

New venue for July 6 protest


The ‘one million people’ protest which was previously scheduled to be held at Padang Timur, Petaling Jaya on July 6 has been moved to the Kelana Jaya stadium.

According to PKR Youth Chief Shamsul Iskandar Mohd Akin, the decision to relocate was made during a party meeting held last night.

It is believed that the meeting was held at PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim’s residence in Bukit Segambut.

Organisers said that the protest will kick off this Sunday at 10am.

The Kelana Jaya stadium has some 50,000 seats and its field can also accommodate the same number of people.

When contacted, Anti-Inflation Coalition (Protes) secretary Dr Hatta Ramli also confirmed new the relocation.

The gathering has originally been planned at a football field in Petaling Jaya, as the culmination of a series of demonstrations triggered by a 41 percent fuel price hike last month.

Organisers fear that the police may seal off surrounding roads to the open field.

Police on Thursday warned the public not to take part in the rally, saying "action can be taken" on those defying the ban.

Hatta criticised the ban and said it was an attempt to intimidate the public and justify the use of "extreme force" to disperse protesters.

"In a way, the people will be intimidated as police will use extreme force to clear us. But our target to gather one million people remains," he said.

Rare joint police-military exercise

Hatta said Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was anxious to suppress the gathering, which would escalate pressure for him to stand down after poor election results in March.

He also denounced unusual moves to deploy the military to maintain public order, after the police chief said the armed forces could assist police in future and that the two security wings were conducting a rare joint exercise.

"Has the government lost control of the situation? Is the country in a crisis, that the military has to be called to maintain public order," Hatta said.

Amnesty International's Malaysia branch criticised the proposal to draft in the military as "highly improper" and said it could worsen human rights violations in Malaysia.

The rights watchdog said the proposed joint action could create confusion in the chain of command, and lead to unnecessary aggression that could result in fatal injuries.

Police sources said the last time the military was deployed to maintain public order was during deadly racial riots on May 13, 1969

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