KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 31 — City police have promised there will be no road blocks to keep revellers from counting down to the new year even as an alert was sounded for potential trouble breaking out at the historic Dataran Merdeka tonight.
Dang Wangi district police chief, Assistant Commissioner Zainuddin Ahmad said the police will not be tightening security heading into the square despite calls for two separate planned protests there.
“We will not be conducting any roadblocks... However, the personnel on duty will be keeping a close eye on the revellers as well as the protesters... We want to ensure everyone’s safety,” Zainuddin was quoted saying by The Star Online news portal.
But he maintained that tonight’s planned protests are illegal as the organisers have not informed the police nor the Kuala Lumpur City Hall in advance.
He also claimed that the police will be investigating an alleged bomb plot, in addition to monitoring the social media for information.
“We will detain anyone with unruly behaviour... It already is an offence to gather without informing the police 10 days before the event as stated under the Peaceful Assembly Act,” he said.
“The revellers are going there to have fun and usher in the New Year... It is not fair if the protesters ruin the celebrations with their illegal assembly,” he said as he warned the two crowds from mixing up with each other.
The police also said that Jalan Raja has been closed from midnight, while the slip road from Jalan Kinabalu to Jalan Raja will be closed from 6pm today to facilitate traffic.
Four non-governmental organisations had been listed on December 28 by police as those allegedly planning to ‘cause trouble’ tonight: anti-price hike movement Gerakan Turun Kos Sara Hidup, PKR-backed group Jingga 13, youth group Solidariti Anak Muda Malaysia (SAMM), and student movement Solidariti Mahasiswa Malaysia (SMM).
Jingga 13 and SAMM had since planned to sue Kuala Lumpur deputy police chief Datuk Amar Singh Ishar Singh for his allegations.
City police had also hauled up PKR MP Rafizi Ramli for questioning on Sunday over unverified claims of an alleged plan that explosives will be detonated during the price hike rally.
On Friday, SMM chairman Mohamed Bukhairy Sofian had reportedly said that its planned gathering at Dataran Merdeka on New Year’s Eve is to protest against the rising cost of living, and not to overthrow the Barisan Nasional government.
Turun chairman Azan Safar had also clarified last week that the price hike protest is not linked to another planned gathering, which allegedly aims to oust the government.
The mass protest was planned amid the various increases in the prices of goods and services, some of which have already taken place a few months ago, like the cutting of fuel and sugar subsidies, while other hikes are scheduled for next year, including electricity tariffs, assessment rates for KL properties, public transport charges and toll rates for major highways.