Friday, 18 September 2015

Malaysia 'Red shirts' march to show Malay solidarity

Participants see rally as show of support for Malay power; many businesses in Chinese shopping areas shut
By Shannon Teoh, Malaysia Correspondent and Amy Chew, Regional Correspondent In Kuala Lumpur, The Straits Times, 17 Sep 2015

Among the tens of thousands who joined yesterday's pro-Malay rally was retired soldier Nasir Rasyid, a sprightly 80-year-old.

"I came here to show Malay solidarity, that we are still solid as a race. I came here to defend Malay dignity, the nation and the country," said Haji Nasir, who, together with 45 others from his village, had travelled to Kuala Lumpur.

"If Bersih can show off, we can also show off and we can do more as we are ex-military," he added.

Although the rally was belatedly described as being open to all peace-loving Malaysians, those who turned up clearly saw the march through Kuala Lumpur as a show of support for Malay power.

Many shops in two popular and predominantly Chinese shopping areas in particular, Bukit Bintang and Petaling Street, were closed despite the presence of riot police to ensure the situation did not get out of hand.

Still, a huge group of marchers managed to break through police barricades to enter Bukit Bintang, although they did not approach Low Yat Plaza, the IT mall at the centre of a racial brawl two months ago.

In the evening, however, the riot police had their hands full when hundreds of "red shirts" attempted to enter Petaling Street.

As the crowd grew more impatient and their chants grew louder, some started to hurl missiles ranging from rocks and bottles to traffic cones at the riot police, who then turned the water cannon on them. The red shirts eventually dispersed.

Federal Territory Umno Youth chief Mohd Razlan Rafii blamed agents provocateur for causing the trouble.

"We did not know it was a prohibited zone," he told reporters, even though the authorities had warned in the run-up to the rally that Petaling Street and Bukit Bintang were no-go zones.

Some of the rally participants whom The Straits Times spoke to admitted being ambivalent about the rally's aims.

"I was told to come here from Penang for the Malaysia Day celebration. But I was shocked to see how racist the event is, picking on one race," said 37-year-old Mr Ismail Abdullah, who came to Kuala Lumpur by bus with 31 people.

"As a Sabahan, we never differentiate people according to their race. Everyone is a Malaysian in my eyes and I have many Chinese friends," he added.

He claimed he and the others had been told they would be paid RM200 (S$66) each when they return to Penang.

"I regret coming here... It disturbs the peace. Look, so many shops are shut," he said, pointing to the rows of shops with their shutters down.

He said he saw how some red shirts breached the police barricades to march into Bukit Bintang.

Some scuffles broke out during the march and at least one warning shot was fired.

But for some, like Umno Ampang division chief Ismail Kijo, there was only one reason to be at the rally: to defend the dignity of Malays.

"We, as Malays, are seeing our dignity trampled. All these bad things said about Prime Minister Najib Razak are lies," he said.

"Najib has done a lot of good things. For example, he is trying to revive the economy. This is for all Malaysians.

"If Umno falls, Barisan Nasional will fall," he added, referring to the ruling coalition .

"I am here to defend Umno and BN."

“Let me reiterate, there is no place for hatred and racism here in Johor Darul Ta’zim. It was never welcomed, nor will I...
Posted by Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar on Tuesday, September 15, 2015

'No room for hatred and racism in Johor': Sultan of Johor
By Asrul Hadi Abdullah Sani, Malaysia Correspondent In Kuala Lumpur, The Straits Times, 17 Sep 2015

The "red shirts" rally had its share of critics, including prominent Malays such as the Sultan of Johor, while a group of activists held a peaceful gathering at KLCC Park to remind people of the message of unity on Malaysia Day.

Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar warned in a Facebook posting that there was no room for hatred and racism in Johor. "Let me reiterate: There is no place for hatred and racism here in Johor Darul Ta'zim. It was never welcomed, nor will I ever welcome haters and racists here in Johor," he said in a message posted early yesterday morning.

"If anyone wants to practise hatred and racism in Johor Darul Ta'zim, the home of the Malays, Chinese and Indians - Bangsa Johor, please leave Johor immediately. That is an order."

The Sultan added that the Johor royal family and state government have worked hard over the years to ensure the state remains peaceful and stable. He also called on the authorities to come down hard on any racial instigators.

"Anyone who creates disharmony and spreads hatred here by promoting racism, will have to deal with me personally. Take this as a warning. This is not the stone age, do not be ungrateful - the Malays, Chinese and Indians all played their part. Johor Darul Ta'zim is home to the Malays, Chinese and Indians; they are Bangsa Johor."

A former diplomat, Datuk Noor Farida Ariffin, claimed some protesters were paid to attend the rally. "Rumour has it that these are basically 'rent a mob' and they have been paid by certain quarters. (Feelings of) disunity and racial intolerance have been deliberately stirred up," she said at a national unity conference.

She also called on politicians not to mislead the Malay community into racial hatred. "Politicians should stop playing tricks by trying to influence rural Malays that the Chinese, the Christians and the Jews are the bogeyman."

Across the city, more than a dozen people gathered at a public park to show their support for a picnic, "Malaysians for Malaysia - a walk in the park", to commemorate the nation's 52nd birthday.

"This would give a better image of Malaysia instead of marching and shouting vitriolic slogans. When we talk about the formation of Malaysia, it is really about living together and not about the dominance of one race," the movement's organiser Azrul Mohd Khalib told reporters. "That is not the way (Malaysia's first premier) Tunku Abdul Rahman imagined it."

Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir, the daughter of former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, was among those who joined the gathering that started at about 3pm.

"Everyone is allowed to do what he or she wants on Malaysia Day. All are allowed to gather and show what they feel as long as it is peaceful," she told reporters when asked about the rally.

Najib overwhelmed by support, says Umno leader
The Straits Times, 17 Sep 2015

KUALA LUMPUR • Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and his deputy Ahmad Zahid Hamidi were overwhelmed by the support shown for yesterday's United Citizens' Assembly, Umno leader Annuar Musa said.

Speaking towards the end of the rally at Padang Merbok, the Umno Supreme Council member claimed that the event attracted no fewer than 250,000 people.

"I just got a call from PM, who sent his regards to those who attended. PM is in Sabah, celebrating Malaysia Day, and also the DPM, who said they were shocked and touched by a gathering as big and as peaceful as this," Tan Sri Annuar was quoted as saying by the Malay Mail Online.

"This rally is not only the voices of the 250,000 here. Let this be a reminder to all citizens, this country has a leader... anyone who threatens that, we will rise and fight to the end," he added.

In a Twitter post yesterday evening, Datuk Seri Najib said: "Was informed that the rally in KL ended peacefully except for an incident. @PDRMsia should investigate. Shouldn't have happened. All must abide by instruction."

PDRMsia is the Twitter handle of the Malaysian police.

In the afternoon, riot police were forced to spray water on a group of unruly protesters in Petaling Street.

Mr Annuar also read out a 14- point resolution. Rally organisers claim it has been agreed to by political parties and non-governmental organisations aligned to their cause.

It includes defending parliamentary democracy, instilling respect, love and unity among Malaysians, uniting the people to defend the country's stability, rejecting the opposition Democratic Action Party's alleged chauvinist racism, rejecting foreign interference in Malaysia's affairs, rejecting Bersih 4 and similar rallies, and rejecting any speech that insults Islam, the Malay Mail Online reported.

The resolution calls on people to support the government in managing the economic slump, unite to uphold the position of Malays, bumiputeras and other races, defend the duly elected government and seek the Internal Security Act's return.

"History has proven that we are willing to work with others on one condition, that our position as Malays is not questioned, and that our rights are not disturbed," said Mr Annuar, adding: "It doesn't end at Padang Merbok, but it is just the beginning of the rise of our race."

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