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KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 8 — Police have estimated about 5,000 people are currently gathered in the city centre so far, ahead of the 2pm anti-International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) “thanksgiving” rally.
In a press conference here, Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Mohamad Fuzi Harun said that the number is expected to grow over time.
“PDRM does not have any final preparation. We have already done enough preparations to handle this gathering, which seems to have already begun this morning.
“Now itself, we estimate about 5,000 people gathering. This figure will keep on increasing until 2pm,” he told reporters.
He however refused to divulge details on the number of police personnel deployed to the ground.
Mohamad Fuzi also weighed in on the postponement of the Human Rights Commission’s (Suhakam) Human Rights Day celebration which was scheduled to take place today, adding that police were cautious of possible security issues.
“This has relation to this (anti-) ICERD gathering. Also, there are security issues which we were worried about.
“If both happened together, it will create security issues. So we advised the organiser to postpone the Suhakam gathering at the field,” Mohamad Fuzi said.
He however, stopped short of revealing what were the issues police were concerned about.
Suhakam chairman Tan Sri Razali Ismail yesterday said that he was compelled to postpone the event to another date to be announced later, due to “serious security risks” after he was contacted by the police and the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Chief Secretary to the Government, Datuk Seri Ismail Bakar, were among the dignitaries who would have attended the celebration, it if went on as planned today.
PAS, Umno and Malay-Muslim groups are pressing ahead with the anti-ICERD gathering today, despite repeated pleas from the authorities who stressed that the event was moot as Putrajaya will not ratify the ICERD.
Authorities are concerned that tempers may flare at the event and have told organisers to ensure order and control throughout.
A previous race-based rally organised by Umno division leader Datuk Seri Jamal Yunos in 2015 — ostensibly to uphold Malay dignity — resulted in clashes between protesters and the police.
Singapore also issued a travel advisory warning its citizens to avoid the Malaysian capital today.