Cops say roadblocks necessary for safety
By Clara Chooi July 06, 2011
Reported police road blocks in the Klang Valley on July 6, 2011. — Source: UndiMalaysia
KUALA LUMPUR, July 6 — Many streets in the capital are still expected to be clogged by roadblocks until Saturday as a precautionary measure by the police to prevent violence during Bersih 2.0’s rally.
Deputy Inspector-General of Police Datuk Khalid Abu Bakar urged the public today to understand the necessity of the roadblocks in certain areas and called for patience.
He pointed out that the discovery of several weapons caches along with Bersih paraphernalia over the past few days had placed the police on high alert to ensure that violence would not break out this Saturday.
“We have no more new discoveries but the police are ready and on the lookout. We are keeping close ties with the local communities as well.
“This is why we have to set up roadblocks ... so we can act quickly. We cannot just accept in totality the promises by Bersih’s organisers that everything will run smoothly because they can say it but this event involves a lot of people,” he told a press conference at the Bukit Aman police headquarters here today.
The now-outlawed Bersih 2.0 coalition is scheduled to hold a stadium rally this Saturday to call for free and fair elections.
Despite its pledges that the gathering would be peaceful, the police recently discovered several weapon caches at the Sogo shopping complex and in Gombak in what police have described as “a preparatory move” by Bersih supporters ahead of the July 9 rally.
The weapons included machetes, a butcher’s knife, a handsaw, Molotov cocktails, metal pipes and 40 firecrackers. Surgical masks and four Bersih T-shirts were also found.
But Bersih 2.0 organisers today denied the weapons link to their rally, claiming it was a “simplistic” deduction by the police.
They called on the cops to investigate the case professionally and not jump to quick conclusions simply because the stash was found along with four Bersih T-shirts. It has also been speculated that the weapons were likely planted by agent provocateurs determined to turn Saturday’s rally violent.
In response, Khalid told Bersih leaders not to speculate on the matter and gave his assurance that the police are doing their jobs.
“We have some leads and we are investigating still. But do not be too quick to accuse others. The fact that we have now is that the items were found and we must take note of them,” he said.
Khalid also expressed concern at the spread of an SMS informing the public that a march would still proceed this Saturday, despite an agreement from all parties to hold their rallies indoors.
“We want to remind everyone that we will not allow any march ... if there are those who are stubborn enough to hold them, we will take action,” he warned.
He said the police would still proceed with its roadblocks, despite receiving scores of complaints from the public today, but noted that they would only be set up where needed.
“We will monitor hourly the need for us to set up these blocks,” he said, adding that orders have also been given to state and district police to reduce the number of roadblocks.