Police on guard at ‘Little India’ Brickfields despite rally cancellation

Shafwan Zaidon And Ida Lim

A heavy police presence is seen in Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur August 24, 2019. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 24 — An estimated 100 to 200 policemen are keeping watch for possible unrest in Brickfields here, dubbed Kuala Lumpur’s “Little India”, following a peaceful rally last night.

Another demonstration had been planned this afternoon to protest the presence of controversial India-born Islamic preacher Dr Zakir Naik, but the area appears peaceful and relatively quiet for a weekend.

However, city police are taking no chances and have not let down their guard, even after protest organiser Shankar Ganesh announced last night that the event is cancelled.

The roads leading to and from the fountain that serves as a focal point at a junction in Brickfields have been closed off to the public.

The roads blocked off are portions of Jalan Rakyat and Jalan Tun Sambanthan, particularly the portions about 100 metres from the fountain.

According to news portal Malaysiakini, Kuala Lumpur police chief Datuk Seri Mazlan Lazim thanked the public for complying with the law and for not going to Brickfields today to attend the cancelled rally.

“We want a peaceful city. We do not welcome anything that threatens the security and peace in the country,” he was quoted saying.

A heavy police presence is seen in Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur August 24, 2019. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

He also reportedly said “sensitive issues” such as the teaching of the jawi writing system and Dr Zakir have been “settled”, noting that Dr Zakir had already been advised by the police to not deliver speeches in Malaysia.

“So there are no issues. If some parties continue to hold a rally, they would create an uneasy situation. Please refrain from doing so,” he was reported saying by Malaysiakini.

Mazlan also said police would restore access to the closed-off roads heading towards Brickfields if the situation is satisfactory.

Last night, the Inspector-General of Police Datuk Seri Abdul Hamid Bador updated the public on the status of police investigations on several “sensitive” issues including Dr Zakir’s speeches and the teaching of jawi writing in schools.

Abdul Hamid warned the public against playing up sensitive issues that could affect public peace, reminding Malaysians to have respect and tolerance towards each other.

The top police officer had also then called for a halt to all actions that could worsen the situation, including the peaceful gatherings, while also saying that the police would take action against the organisers and participants of gatherings who act in ways that may affect public peace and national security.