Monday, April 22

Business community ‘no’ to planned Bersih rally


KUALA LUMPUR: The much-talked about illegal assembly planned for July 9 has made the business community here anxious about its negative impacts on the country and its economic development.

Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KLSICCI) president Datuk V K K Teagarajan said the business community would not welcome any kind of disruption.

“Most businesses don’t want any blockage or disruption of movement, especially in the KL (Kuala Lumpur) area. The reason is very simple: if any assembly happens in any part of the city, other places will definitely be affected,” he told Bernama yesterday.

He said the business community understood the motivation of the organiser of the assembly. However, the organiser should attempt to minimise the negative impacts on the business community, by holding the assembly in a stadium, for instance.

“We have the Bukit Jalil stadium, which can cater to a large crowd. But when you have a few hundred thousand on the streets, it will certainly cause terrible disruption to traffic in the city,” he said.

He said KLSICCI members complained about their businesses being disrupted during the first assembly, in 2007. The assembly affected many business outlets in Jalan Masjid India, as traffic into the city was disrupted, and roads had to be closed for the march.

“In KL, any road block creates massive jams, and this can turn customers away from the city. That’s why we prefer if the organiser holds it at the stadium, in order to minimise disruption to businesses, and the community at large,” he said.

A few non-governmental organisations (NGO), such as the United Borneo Front (UBF), have also urged the group to scrap its planned protest march on July 9, purportedly for clean and fair elections, and accept the Election Commission’s offer to hold talks.

UBF leader Datuk Jeffrey Kitingan said that though the UBF fully supported

the group’s noble objectives, the current situation called for all parties to act rationally. He said parties should avoid provocative behaviour. He added that holding the demonstration could lead to undesirable outcomes.

“Since the EC has already opened its doors to talks to sort things out, the group should see that half of its objectives have already been achieved in the two months of being in the news,” he said. — Bernama

“It needs to realise that it can still pursue its additional objectives through other, more diplomatic, means,” said Kitingan, who was detained in the early 1990s under the Internal Security Act (ISA).

The opposition pact or ‘Pakatan Rakyat’ parties and activists have been gearing up for the assembly, the second such gathering organised by the group. The first was held in 2007, when several thousand people were reported to have gathered in the capital.

The opposition is pushing for its members to turn up in full force, hoping to galvanise support for itself in the general election, expected to be held within a year.

Some political analysts believe the assembly is part of the opposition parties’ strategy for the next general election.

Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein said no permits would be issued for the assembly. He also said that permits would not be given to Umno Youth and the Malay right-wing group Perkasa for any march or rally planned for July 9.

Perkasa, together with Gerak Aman, a coalition of 57 NGOs, plans to counter the illegal assembly, while Umno Youth announced it would organise a march on the same day to hand over a memorandum to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. — Bernama