The much-anticipated #KitaLawan rally here today for the release of jailed Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim saw a far lower turnout compared to the previous protest, possibly due to the arrests of several high-profile opposition politicians and activists.
By Syed Jaymal Zahiid
Saturday March 28, 2015
04:50 PM GMT+8
March 28, 2015
09:24 PM GMT+8
KUALA LUMPUR, March 28 — The much-anticipated #KitaLawan rally here today for the release of jailed Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim saw a far lower turnout compared to the previous protest, possibly due to the arrests of several high-profile opposition politicians and activists.
About 300 people showed up for today’s demonstration, a far cry from the thousands that swamped the streets in the national capital in the similarly named rally on March 7.
The demonstrators, many dressed in black T-shirts and carrying placards, marched peacefully alongside moving vehicles and other pedestrians from three assembly points in the city: Masjid Jamek, Dataran Merdeka and outside the PAS headquarters on Jalan Raja Laut.
Chanting “Kita lawan” (We fight) and “Reformasi”, they converged at the Jalan Parlimen-Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman intersection first before marching towards the Kuala Lumpur City Centre.
A few policemen in uniform were spotted keeping a close watch on the march.
The crowd grew to about a thousand-strong later and moved towards the Sogo shopping complex on Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, where they stopped to hear several other prominent federal opposition politicians and activists speak.
“I would like to congratulate you youths for attending today’s rally. It’s a success. Despite the intimidation, we are still here,” said the chairman of polls reform watchdog Bersih 2.0, Maria Chin.
“We are telling the authorities that we are not afraid… that no matter what, lawan tetap lawan (we will fight on)” PAS central working committee member Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad said next.
Several key opposition leaders were arrested earlier today and last night in what human rights lawyers called a preemptive strike to prevent the rally from taking place.
Notable figures arrested are PKR vice-presidents Rafizi Ramli and Chua Tian Chang, PAS deputy president Mohamad Sabu and activist Hishammuddin Rais.
PKR supreme council member Sim Tze Zim, who was also present at today’s march, said many had gathered to demand the resignation of Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar.
“Up to now they have arrested 93 leaders, activists and critics of the government but today we show that we are not afraid. You can arrest 90, 100, 100,000 but another 100,000 will rise to fight on.
“We must fight until the IGP is sacked,” he told the crowd.
“The #KitaLawan will continue. We want to raise all these issues; about GST, 1MDB, corruption. We will continue to voice our grievances,” he told Malay Mail Online at the sidelines of the protest.
The controversial introduction of the Goods and Services Tax, which will take effect from next Wednesday, and the debt-laden 1 Malaysia Development Berhad, were among the main issues raised by opposition speakers during today’s rally.
After the speeches, the protestors then marched towards the Dang Wangi district police headquarters where they believed Rafizi and Chua are being held.
They shouted “down with the IGP” and “free the detainees” in front of the police headquarters’ entrance.
Several police officers formed a human barricade outside as a preventive measure but nothing untoward took place.
The demonstrators then made their way to the Petronas Twin Towers and the adjacent Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre (KLCC), marching along Jalan Ampang singing anti-government songs and chanting “Down with Najib”.
Police had already formed a barricade at the Jalan Kia Peng and Jalan P. Ramlee intersection leading to the KLCC.
It is understood that police were concerned that the demonstrators would march towards the convention centre, which has been booked for the dinner wedding reception of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s daughter.
The march stopped right before the barricades and after negotiations, the protestors agreed to halt their march there.
The demonstrators dispersed shortly before 7pm without further incident.