Sunday, July 6, 2008

Kelana Jaya rally begins without a hitch

Petikan daripada MalaysiaKini:

There is a carnival sort of atmosphere at the Kelana Jaya stadium this morning at the day-long anti-fuel hike rally.

People started trickling into the 50,000 capacity stadium since early morning, to be greeted by vendors selling Pakatan Rakyat party mementos, T-shirts, cassettes and posters.

About 17 stalls had set up business since yesterday with traders reporting brisk business.

The rally is organised by the Coalition Against Inflation (Protes).

Protes coordinator Dr Hatta Ramli told Malaysiakini yesterday that the programme, which would see musical and artistic performances in between political speeches, would start at 10am until midnight.

When the rally kicked off at 10am, about 5,000 people have arrived at the stadium with more on their way. Most of them are in red T-shirts, turning the grandstand into a sea of red.

Hatta, who is PAS Kuala Krai parliamentarian, was the first speaker, followed by Hindraf S Jayathas, DAP Selangor executive councillor Ronnie Liu and PKR's Irene Fernandez.

According to programme schedule released by Hatta this morning, representatives from rights movements Jerit and Hindraf are scheduled to give speeches at 12 noon.

At 2pm, representative of NGOs and Pakatan parties would have their say.

Pakatan members of parliament and state representatives would be making their appearance at 3pm, and at 5pm a number of Pakatan mentri besar and chief minister are expected to be at the stadium.

The Pakatan bigwigs are scheduled to appear before the crowd at 9pm with PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim being the star of the show.

Police and military 'intimidation'

Meanwhile, the nearby Kelana Jaya LRT station is busy with many protestors using the public transport to get to the stadium.

At the station, a small band of uniformed police personnel have been stationed to monitor the crowd.

Vendors at the stadium told Malaysiakini that late last night they saw several police patrol cars and about seven military trucks in the area, but the convoy did not stop at the stadium.

In addition to the palpable police and military intimidation, organisers have to fight off persistent rumours that event would be cancelled.

"Any contrary information that is being disseminated whether by SMS or email are patently false and misleading and are meant to confuse the public." said a statement from Protes.

"The planned programme will not be cancelled under any circumstances to ensure that the people are able to express their dissatisfaction at the government's decision to drastically increase the price of petrol and other fuels without strong and reasonable justification."

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