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Sunday, March 8, 2009

Cops foil march to Istana

Riot police fired teargas at hundreds of people who tried to march towards Istana Negara to protest against the policy of using English to teach Science and Mathematics.

The protesters started gathering at the Masjid Negara at about 2.20pm before marching towards the palace through busy streets, creating massive traffic jams amidst a downpour.

Police started firing tear gas towards the crowd as they approached Wisma Tun Sambanthan, forcing the crowd to break into smaller groups.

Angry mob: Police and Federal Reserve Unit personnel firing tear gas at the Wisma Tun Sambanthan area as the protesters dispersed. They later regrouped at Masjid Negara. — P. NATHAN

Some ran off, while about 200 people regrouped at Masjid Negara. By 6pm, they too dispersed.

Police later said they had detained 124 people for questioning.

The crowd had planned to submit a memorandum to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, appealing for the return of the use of Bahasa Melayu and mother tongue to teach the two subjects.

In the midst of the chaos, police escorted Gapena’s Datuk A. Samad Said to the Istana gates, where he handed over the memorandum to a palace representative.

Police and Federal Reserve Unit personnel were on standby at the palace gates.

Meanwhile, Inspector General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan said police are looking for Gapena’s Samad, Datuk Hassan Ahmad and Dr. Shaharil Md Zain.

Police also want to question PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang, PAS deputy president Nasharuddin Mat Isa, Machang MP Saifuddin Nasution, Kuala Krai MP Dr Hatta Ramli and Pokok Sena MP Datuk Mahfuz Omar for their involvement in the illegal gathering.

He said the marchers, initially led by the Gapena trio had agreed there would be no gatherings or demonstrations during their discussions with the Kuala Lumpur CPO Deputy Comm Datuk Wira Mohd Sabtu Osman.

“They agreed to send representatives to Istana Negara after the Zohor prayers but when political parties like PAS and PKR got involved, it became an illegal gathering and demonstration.

“We had no choice but to use tear gas to disperse the crowd,” he said.

Musa said the police control centre in Bukit Aman and the City police were deluged with angry callers following the massive traffic jams caused by the march.

“I assure the public that stern action will be taken against those involved in organising the demonstrations.

“They are not fighting for democracy but are demo crazy,” he added.


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