Malaysiakini News

Ahmad Awang leads prayer to help smite GST

Malaysiakini Team  |  Published:  |  Modified:

A month after the controversial Goods and Services Tax (GST) implementation, a major protest is taking place in downtown Kuala Lumpur today to call for its abolition.

Participating groups include Kita Lawan and opposition parties including Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) will march from various points around the city to Dataran Merdeka.

Malaysiakini brings you the events as they happen.


[VIDEO] [PHOTOS]

6.20pm: KLCC - The anarchist group finally disperses without major incident.

There are still some stragglers lingering around the general vicinity, but all is calm and things return to normal.

Life in Kuala Lumpur goes on as usual.

6.15pm: Kota Kinabalu - Sabah DAP Youth says they are pleased to have held their peaceful rally near Padang Merdeka in the eastern state today.

"This proves that Sabah's youth and its residents are now aware and are brave to rise together to call for their rights.

"Their courage is most heartening considering the warning by the police earlier (about proceeding with the rally)," says DAP Sabah political education director Phoong Jin Zhe in a statement this evening.

He says on May Day, the government should value the working class as they have helped build the country

However, he says, GST has made their lives difficult and affected their disposable income.

He adds the statistic that 60 percent of youths are earning under RM2,000, which is worrying.

6pm: Dataran Merdeka - The Free Anwar petition coalition has joined the rally today to collect signatures from the public.

Coordinator Lau Tiong An says they have been collecting signatures for their petition from morning at Sogo till now.

They have garnered up to 3,000 signatures today.

"We are giving people an opportunity to show their dissatisfaction with the judicial system with this petition," he says.

The group aims to collect a million signatures for the petition to the Yang Di Pertuan Agong to free the jailed opposition leader.

"From the beginning of the campaign in April till now, we have collected 50,000 signatures," he adds.

5.45pm: KLCC - A group of 30 anarchists have refused to leave despite the rally being declared over.

They, along with some other stragglers, almost clashed with police when the authorities try to seize food trucks that have been selling refreshments to the demonstrators.

The crowd work together to block the police so the two food trucks can escape.

However, the tension does not end there.

One anarchist tries to start a fight with another demonstrator but is held back by the crowd.

Another anarchist then spraypaints the license plate of a motorcycle that is trying to squeeze through the crowd.

The motorcyclist however brushes off the incident and goes off on his way.

5.30pm: KLCC - PKR vice president Tian Chua declares the protest a success.

"This is a victory for the rakyat," he says.

He tells the crowd to disperse, saying they will meet again as the protesters begin to go their separate ways.

5.20pm: KLCC - The rally comes to a close and Malaysiakini estimates the total turnout to be roughly 20,000.

Many protesters and rally leaders, including Fariz Musa, Hanipa Maidin, and Ahmad Awang have begun to disperse.

About 3,000 however are still here, gathered around the truck carrying Tian Chua where they are singing protest songs.

Police are seen walking among the crowd to facilitate traffic.

5.10pm: KLCC - A group of 20 visually impaired from Solidariti Orang Buta Malaysia have shown up at the rally.

They condemn the implementation of GST that they say have led to many of the blind being robbed.

"GST has made people poor, and we have therefore become the target of robbers.

"First they approach us as friends, but then our wallet is stolen.

"We have made police reports, but the police want us to describe the face of the robber.

"We are blind; how can we draw the face of the robber," says Fadil, 42, who runs a small business.

He says GST has also caused goods and accessories for the blind to go up.

"In fact, the Association for the Blind (MAB) also charges GST on us," he says angrily.

"The price of goods has also become more expensive. We are not rich.

"In the past, a meal at the shop costs only RM6 with rice and drink, now we have to pay RM8," he complains further.

5pm: KLCC - PAS Youth chief Suhaizan Kayat reads out the anti-GST rally declaration.

"We the protesters demand GST to be abolished.

"We vow to continue fighting against GST," he says.

PAS ustaz Ahmad Awang then leads the crowd in prayer.

"Ya Allah, we are gathered here today with the spirit of jihad, in the spirit of Tok Janggut, to fight GST.

"Give us strength. Give strength to your soldiers who fight against GST.

"Ya Allah fulfil our prayers [...] destroy GST," he prays.

4.50pm: KLCC - Around 1,000 protesters who were left behind have now arrive at KLCC, bearing their placards while passing cars and buses honk in support as the rally-goers march.

4.45pm: KLCC - Speeches are being delivered in at least three different spots now.

In front of Affin Bank, PKR secretary-general Rafizi Ramli takes a shot at Deputy Finance Minister Ahmad Maslan, telling him to go back to school.

"Go back to school, Ahmad Maslan. It is he who doesn't understand GST," he says.

He was referring to the deputy finance minister's comments that GST critics do not understand the tax.

However besides the speeches and occasional chants, it is rather quiet considering the sheer number of people here.

Motorists here are also not honking in support like they were earlier while the demonstrators were marching.

4.25pm: Jalan Ampang - A smoke bomb goes off in front of Zouk discotheque on Jalan Ampang, to the shock of everyone present.

The orange smoke engulfs the sidewalk but after a quick check, no one is injured.

Some speculate it was thrown by a member of an anarchist group not involved with the Kita Lawan committee, and believe it is the same group that lit flares earlier in front of Masjid Jamek.

Organisers tell the crowd it is an act of provocation and remind everyone to continue their march towards KLCC.

4.20pm: KLCC -  The crowd becomes quiet as one of the demonstrators takes the microphone and sounds the azan for asar prayers.

"Takbir!" the crowd shouts when the azan ends, and the speeches continue.

The crowd has caused congestion on the KLCC side of Jalan Ampang as there simply isn't enough space for all of them to gather in front of Affin Bank.

Thousands have lined up the sidewalk near KLCC, despite orders for them to stay away.

The authorities have however barricaded the KLCC grounds and posted security to keep protesters out.

4.15pm: Jalan Ampang - The crowd from Sogo has reached Jalan Ampang and are flooding the street.

Traffic has come to a standstill, with protesters filling up all three lanes of the road and the adjacent sidewalks from the Jalan Ampang - Jalan Bukit Bintang intersection to the KLCC traffic lights.

KLCC - More and more people are streaming in. An estimated 15,000 protesters have joined today's rally so far.

Disabled activist Isaiah Jacob addresses the crowd, telling them how GST has burdened the disabled.

"No one has cared about the troubles of the disabled since GST was implemented," he said.

"I have paid RM127 in taxes to the government since GST was implemented.

"The government are b****s; they are cruel. They should be helping the disabled," he adds.

3.55pm Dang Wangi Police Headquarters - The crowd merrily burst into song, singing ' Terima kasih Abang Polis ' (Thank you Mr Policemen) as they pass by.

Police presence has been light since morning and no incidents have been reported among the rally-goers. Only a few policemen are seen along the route.

3:45pm Jalan Raja Laut - The 6,000-strong crowd starts to march again, to the beat of drums by the band BangsArt, singing, ' Ale, ale Malaysiaku '.

Enterprising vendors take advantage of the hot sun and rising temperature to sell drinks. They are seen bringing polystyrene boxes filled with ice-cold refreshments to sell to the marchers, at slightly inflated prices.

3:45pm: Dataran Merdeka - A group of youths dressed in black show up to disrupt the rally, covering their faces with black handkerchief and holding orange flares.

They approach the police in the vicinity and thrown the flares at them, but it does not reach them.

They then throw some firecrackers onto Jalan Tun Perak, which go off in loud bangs.

The protesters are annoyed with them and shout at them to "go away". In retaliation, the youths throw firecrackers at the protestors and provoke some into a quarrel. Both sides throw water bottles at each other.

They are eventually chased away by the rally-goers.

The organisers remind the crowd not to light firecrackers during the rally, and tell the crowd the youths do not belong to the rally.

After the incident, the 1,000 gathered here begin marching to Sogo and on to KLCC.

3:30pm: Bandaraya LRT Station - Over 5,000 have stopped here briefly.

Malaysiakini understands they are waiting for another 5,000 from Masjid Negara and Central Market to proceed together to KLCC.

3.30pm: Jalan Sultan Ismail - Unit Amal has stopped the traffic at the Jalan Sultan Ismail - Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman intersection to allow the protesters through.

Meanwhile, traffic police watch over them from the opposite side of the road.

3:20pm: Dataran Merdeka - At the intersection, Kita Lawan's secretariat announces they will now march to KLCC.

At least 5,000 still fill Jalan Raja, Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, and Dataran on their way to Jalan Raja Laut, and are chanting louder than ever.

About 50 to 100 KL City Hall (DBKL) officers are seen standing at attention in front of their headquarters at Jalan Raja Laut.

3.15pm: Jalan Raja Laut - The protesters have passed Kuala Lumpur Metro University College and are nearing PAS' headquarters.

The Islamic party's Unit Amal volunteer outfit is present to keep the peace, and so far, no police have been seen in the vicinity.

One protester who only wants to be known as Din, when asked why he is protesting, just says, "Ask Najib why he has spent so much. Don't ask the rakyat," he tells Malaysiakini .

3:15pm: Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman - The crowd from Sogo has now reached the Dataran Merdeka intersection.

Numbering at least 4,000, the protesters led by Batu MP Tian Chua are singing to the sound of drums and the music of underground folk band BangsArt.

3pm: Jalan Raja - The crowd has swelled to about 10,000 people at the iconic Dataran Merdeka, and more are expected to arrive.

While most are gathered in front of City Hall, about 100 are near the police barricade, engaged in a silent staredown with the police.

A thundering of horns signals the beginning of the crowd's march towards KLCC.

3pm:  Sogo - Kita Lawan secretariat member Mandeep Singh announces to the 2,000-strong crowd they are marching to Dataran Merdeka.

The crowd now occupies the entire width of Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman and make the 300 metre march towards the thousands at Dataran Merdeka.

They chant " Bantah GST " and " Undur Najib " along the way.

Enterprising traders sell water and T-shirts, and the authorities are hardly in sight.

2.50pm: Jalan Raja - The protesters have flooded and blocked the intersection in front of City Hall.

PAS deputy president Mohamad 'Mat' Sabu addresses the crowd.

"We are all Tok Janggut!" he cries, echoed by the crowd. Tok Janggut is the colonial-era freedom fighter who fought against British rule and their taxes.

Mat Sabu tells the crowd they will later make their way to KLCC via Jalan Raja Laut.

He also tells them that a large crowd is still making its way from Dataran Maybank.

"Their (ranks) are 3km long," he says.

2.50pm: Masjid Jamek - The 500 from Maybank arrive at Masjid Jamek.

Traffic police helps to maintain smooth flow on Jalan Tun Perak.

2.35pm: Sogo - PKR vice-president Tian Chua is giving a speech from on top of a 4WD vehicle to rouse the crowd.

He tells the 1,500 now gathered they will march to Dataran Merdeka and KLCC shortly.

"We will not surrender.

"Today we will march until democracy is restored in Malaysia," he says, while also reminding the crowd not to succumb to violent behaviour.

He also thanks the police - whose presence so far is minimal - in advance for allowing the peaceful assembly and march to proceed.

2.30 pm: Masjid Jamek - Protesters have completely blocked traffic in front of Majid Jamek.

Among the opposition leaders spotted are PAS presidential hopeful ustaz Ahmad Awang, who leads the crowd in a prayer to seek divine intervention in their fight against GST.

As soon as the prayer ends, the 2,000-strong crowd begins making their way to Dataran Merdeka.

Chants of " Reformasi " fill the air.

Sogo - About 500 people are gathering in front of the shopping complex, with many more expected to join in by 3pm. Vendors are selling political and anti-GST T-shirts.

Maybank Building - Marchers from Pasar Seni arrive and joins the crowd here, totalling 500, and the group begins marching to Masjid Jamek.

A 4WD vehicle equipped with speakers and PA system were brought in front of the complex to address the crowd.

2.29pm: Dataran Merdeka - Both ends of Jalan Raja, the road between the iconic Sultan Abdul Samad building and Dataran Merdeka have been blocked by the police with metal barriers.

This is to deter protesters from entering the Dataran, a patch of green where crowds often gather for major events.

2.20pm: Masjid Jamek -  A traffic jam is building up along Jalan Tun Perak as now close to 2,000 protesters flood a 100 metre stretch of road.

Motorists however do not seem to mind, honking away and waving in support of the demonstrators.

Cries of " Undur Najib, Undu r" (Step down, Prime Minister Najib Razak) thunder from the crowd.

2.10pm: Pasar Seni - Around 100 protesters marching from Jalan Sultan arrive here.

Most are in red T-shirts and bear placards with " Hancur GST " (Down with GST), " Kita Lawan " (We will fight).

2pm: Masjid Jamek - Over 1,000 demonstrators have gathered outside Masjid Jamek.

The sound of trumpets and chants began right after Friday prayers.

" Hidup Rakyat ", " Hancur GST " they cry, waving banners.

One group marches towards the mosque, waving the Johor and Sabah flags.

Police presence outside the mosque is still light.

The end point of the march - Dataran Merdeka - has however been cordoned off with metal barricades.

2pm: A major protest against the Goods and Services Tax (GST) will take place in downtown Kuala Lumpur today, a month after the tax came into force.

Demonstrators from various groups, including Kita Lawan and Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM), will be gathering at various points around the city before marching to Dataran Merdeka after Friday prayers.

They complain the 6 percent consumption tax is burdening the lower- and middle-income groups, whose wages have not increased in proportion to rising costs of living.

This is the third major protest this year, the previous two being the Kita Lawan protests to call for the freeing of jailed opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim.

Last year, a similar anti-GST protest on May Day drew over 50,000 people.

 

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