KUALA LUMPUR: A throng of protesters gathered at Padang Merbok for Pakatan Rakyat’s ‘Black 505’ rally ahead of the opening of the 13th Parliament tomorrow, although the number was nowhere near the 300,000 targeted by the organisers.
The rally was held to call for the immediate resignation of all Election Commission (EC) commissioners, re-elections to be held in at least 30 parliamentary seats and to stop the EC from conducting redelineation exercise or review electoral laws pending appointment of new commissioners.
Besides Pakatan leaders and its supporters who were mostly dressed in black, the crowd also comprised orang asli groups, Anti-Lynas activists and NGOs fighting for heritage preservation.
The crowd, which gathered as early as 9.30am at Padang Merbok, started to grow in numbers only after noon as various groups marched to the field from six gathering points in the city.
Pakatan leaders who led the groups were PKR deputy president Azmin Ali, Selangor PAS Commissioner Dr Abdul Rani Osman, PAS central committee member Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad as well as PKR supreme council member and key organiser of the rally, Sungai Petani MP Datuk Johari Abdul.
DAP leaders, including party adviser Lim Kit Siang and Batu Gajah MP V. Sivakumar, also attended the rally in spite of party chairman Karpal Singh’s earlier statement that the DAP was not involved.
Lim, Bersih 2.0 steering committee co-chairman Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan and PKR leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim were among the key speakers.
Despite the rally being officially declared illegal and warnings to the public not to take part, police allowed the participants to gather.
Before it started, Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Mansor made a final appeal for participants to gather at Merdeka Stadium, as it was “a much safer venue”.
“We allowed them to use the stadium but they were adamant on using Padang Merbok. We will lodge a police report because City Hall denied them the use of the field,” he said.
Most of the crowd dispersed by about 6pm. However, some of the participants, who had set up tents in the field before the rally, vowed to stay until the opening of the Dewan Rakyat tomorrow.
City police chief Deputy Comm Datuk Mohmad Salleh said the rally was largely incident-free, except for a scuffle after two City Hall personnel tried to dismantle the tents.
“The situation was under control with no arrest made. However, there were traffic jams around the city centre, especially along Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman and Jalan Parlimen.”
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