KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 16 — A leader of the #Merah169 rally today claimed that provocation by DAP and opposition parties caused rally-goers to try and force their way into Petaling Street, prompting police to fire water cannons on the crowd.
Datuk Jamal Md Yunos, whose Coalition of Malay NGOS is behind the “Red Shirt” aspect of the rally, further claimed that participants were given strict instructions not to enter the area known as “Chinatown”, but were angered by the purported provocation.
He also denied that those who sought to break through a security cordon were from his group, despite police informing him that some had admitted affiliation.
“Before this, there has been provocation by Pakatan Rakyat, by DAP. A few statements have been made by the opposition leaders almost every day,” he told reporters after the rally ended.
“This red T-shirt can be bought anywhere, it can be made anywhere. The red shirts cannot be used as proof that they are from our group,” he said.
He further insisted that the rally was meant to be a peaceful show of Malay solidarity.
Water cannons were fired at the large grouping of red-shirted protesters earlier this evening at Petaling Street after several negotiations between the police and demonstrators failed to result in the crowd dispersing.
#Merah169 organisers earlier struggled to contain the crowd who were attempting to break through a police line barricading Petaling Street, pleading with attendees not to behave “like the Chinese in DAP”.
Thousands of red-shirted people were bussed into the federal capital this morning to take part in a rally officially called “Himpunan Rakyat Bersatu” or the United People’s Assembly, but which drew concern among traders in the city centre and ethnic Chinese business leaders.
The protest was also marred by sporadic outbreaks of racism, with one attendee recorded calling a reporter “Crazy Chinese pig”, among other insults.
The rally, said to be in support of Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s leadership, was to counter to last month’s two-day Bersih 4 gathering calling for the prime minister’s resignation.
The ruling Malay party has insisted that it does not endorse the event, which has also been alternately called “Himpunan Maruah Melayu”, but has not prohibited its members from participating in today’s demonstration organised by martial arts group Pesaka.