Saturday, January 26, 2008

PROTES - Dozens Arrested in KLCC

As the title post suggests, the estimated number of 30 people were arrested in part of PROTES' protesting against a possible oil price hike, likely in April. The rally was deemed illegal since it does not have a permit required to be applied to the police. The police had obtained a restriction order from the Magistrate Court of Kuala Lumpur on Friday. The copies of the warrant (in 3 pages) were pasted on various locations within the vicinity of KLCC.

I had a slight hassle of going into the interview. The main area was quiet with the knowledge that the assembly will be held today. The shutter doors towards the main meeting area seperating the two towers and the shopping mall were sealed off and the only exit is via two side doors. I encountered problems with a rookie police officer who insisted that I had to carry a letter of request or a special permit to go to Tower 2. I was telling the woman that the interview is only today and it's a walk-in interview. I had to repeat it again in Bahasa Malaysia for her to understand. Finally, a senior officer came in to intervene and I told him of the interview. He'd let me go to the tower.

While awaiting for my turn for interview, I saw a helicopter flying within the vicinity of KLCC. At one point it went as low as the level that I am at KLCC. See the picture above.

Question: How did you end up there?

Answer: The answer is that I did not go there on purpose. As mentioned above, I had an interview with the giant IT firm Accenture at Tower 2 today. It was at 1 p.m. I had to wait until my turn for interview at 2.15 p.m, in which question and answering session finished close to 3 p.m. I was about to leave Tower 2 when I saw a big crowd gathering there. I was on the way back to the subway station.

Question: What protest is that?

Answer: It is a protest by opposition parties and NGOs protesting against the impending price hike of petrols. There has been a hint that the government will increase the price of petrol by another 30 or 40 cents coming April after general elections because of the inability to control the subsidy. The opposition parties and NGOs protest here because the Malaysian Petroleum Club is located in the Twin Towers.

A news article over the all media indicated that DPM Najib Razak and DCA Minister Shafie Apdal had urged the newspapers not to reflect the bad side of the price inflation. Some people take that actions by the two ministers as covering the truth from the public.

Question: So what happened?

Answer: Besides my understanding, mostly from asking people around; from the point after my interview, FRUs and policemen were marching from the main entrance towards the side entrance facing Ampang Park. The protest was split into two groups, with the other one is being at the Australian High Commission. The thing is that they are prepared to face the group of supporters that are marching from Ampang Park station all the way towards KLCC. According to Malaysiakini, the arrests were made at random, particularly on those who might be behaving unusually at the point of the event. The Malaysiakini journalist was also one of the 30 arrested as well. One of the five figureheads of PROTES, Dr. Hatta Ramli was arrested as well.

I suppose this could be the main person in charge of the operation but given the name tag, it's not Pak Zul. But the rank and the cap wore by this officer as well as the antics mean that this man is itching for action in catching people.
At about 3.30pm, about 200 Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) supporters marching from Ampang Park towards KLCC were locked in a standoff with the police. Ten minutes later, at least 12 PSM supporters and leaders were arrested after a minor scuffle with the police.
I acknowledged the statement above from Malaysiakini. It happens in the photo above. Later on, 12 PSM people (those who wear the red badges) were taken into the police arrest vehicle as well. As the vehicle is moving out, the chants of "Hidup Rakyat" were echoed from those who were arrested. But as they are about to move out more were arrested and some wanted to join them all the way to the IPK office. Suddenly one of the Special Branch people retaliated after being provoked by a detainee in a move described by many observers as the animal side of the police force. Lawyers were there as well, observing the scenes of the protest and the brutal way the police acts on the people.

Question: The Tally?

: The number of 30 was given base on the estimation by fellow blogger / human rights activist Elizabeth Wong, (picture above) whom I met with Howsy in September. Later, at this time of writing, I believe the number is a little less than the estimation according to the account by a PAS man. But the report by this PAS man is a little more accurate than mine, so it can be a good reference to the accounts of the events there as well.

Question: What's your opinion?

Just as my friend said the other day, this could be a measure to prevent the government from calling elections in March. There could be more events similar to this coming soon, with a BERSIH gathering on the 23rd of February, HINDRAF meeting PM with roses and etc.. But anyhow, I will not go to either sides. I'm just a fence sitter, that's all.

Translation of the Restriction Order (for the sake of international readers)

From Page 2:

And therefore, the court has found you and the PROTES protesters will proceed with the assembly without the approval from the authorities.

And therefore, the court feels that a necessary action is required to avoid potential danger and threat of security to the public which result in potential injuries, fights and etc..if held.

And therefore, the court has found that it is necessary to issue a restraint order and issued in an ex-parte manner due to insufficient time and given the fact that the assembly will be held on 26 January 2008.


This photo by Elizabeth was taken near the vicinity of where I was with her, at the time the man above was arrested. After he threw the shirt, an SB man was reacting violently at him shoving him into the truck. The chants was initially Hidup Rakyat started by PSM's Dr. Nasir. After the man was shoved in, the chants changed to 'Reformasi.

As of late last night, the final number was about 56 people. Jonson Chong, a lawyer whom I bumped into was among the 56. 10 were let go free after statements as well as a Malaysiakini reporter.

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