Singapore MFA advises against non-essential travels to KL this weekend

Police officers near Dataran Merdeka in Kuala Lumpur before a rally in 2015. (FILE PHOTO: Reuters)

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) has on Friday (7 December) advised Singaporeans to defer all non-essential travel to Kuala Lumpur, in light of rallies taking place at various locations in and around the Malaysian capital on Saturday.

It said in a travel advisory, “According to media reports, a large-scale rally will take place in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, at Dataran Merdeka on 8 December, 2018. Current indications are that turnout at the event may number in the tens of thousands.

“There are also media reports of another large rally taking place in Petaling Jaya at Padang Timur on the same day.

“As with large congregations or demonstrations, there is a possibility that limited and isolated skirmishes might take place. There may also be traffic disruptions and other disturbances that will impact travellers.”

Opposing opinions on ICERD

The Dataran Merdeka rally refers to a public demonstration by opposition groups Umno and Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS), along with Malay-Muslim non-governmental organisations, to celebrate the Malaysian government’s decision to back away from ratifying the United Nations’ International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD). It will begin at 2pm and is scheduled to end at 6pm.

The Petaling Jaya rally, on the other hand, is organised by Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam), which supports the ratification of ICERD. Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad is expected to speak at the rally, in what is seen as a counter to the opposition gathering.

Both rallies have been given the green light by the authorities, in a signal of higher tolerance for freedom of expression under the six-month-old Pakatan Harapan government.

Staying vigilant, avoiding large gatherings

The MFA travel advisory added: “Singaporeans are advised to defer all non-essential travel to Kuala Lumpur for the time being.

“Singaporeans who are currently in Kuala Lumpur are advised to stay vigilant and avoid large gatherings, monitor local media for developments and heed the instructions of the local authorities.”

MFA said Singaporeans are encouraged to eRegister with the ministry, and stay in touch with family and friends.

Consular assistance

Those who need consular assistance may contact the Singapore High Commission in Kuala Lumpur or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs duty office at:

Singapore High Commission in Kuala Lumpur:  209 Jalan Tun Razak,  50400 Kuala Lumpur.  Telephone: +60 321 616 277/+60 1665 610 400 Email: singhc_kul@mfa.sg

Ministry of Foreign Affairs Duty Office (24-hours): 1 Sherwood Road, Singapore 248163  Tel: 63798800/ 63798855 Email: mfa_duty_officer@mfa.gov.sg