4 retailers arrested for rioting during brawl at KL's Low Yat Plaza

A press photographer was injured during the riots on July 12, 2015.
A press photographer was injured during the riots on July 12, 2015.PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Four mobile phone salesmen have been arrested by police in connection to the riot that broke out at Kuala Lumpur's Low Yat Plaza on Sunday, with 30 others brought in to assist in the investigations.

KL Criminal Investigation Department chief Senior Asst Comm Datuk Zainuddin Ahmad said the 30 were brought in to identify some of the assailants in the riot on Sunday night.

"Four other retailers were arrested to facilitate investigations into a riot incident," he said.

SAC Zainuddin added there have been a total of 22 people arrested by city police, while Bukit Aman CID arrested Mohd Ali Baharom, also known as Ali Tinju, earlier on Tuesday.

The arrival of the police to pick up the 30 people caused a minor panic at the mall.

According to witnesses, police started picking up workers from various stores, forcing some to close as there were no workers there to man them.

Curious shoppers started to gather at the concourse area and as a huge crowd gathered, panicked traders on the upper floors also closed their shops.

The crowd dispersed peacefully after being told by mall security personnel some 30 minutes later.

Those picked up by the police were later released and returned to the mall.

Malaysian Armed Forces Veterans Association chief Mohd Ali Baharom has also been detained in connection with allegations of inciting the Low Yat brawl.

Popularly known as "Ali Tinju", Mohd Ali was seen in a video clip making a speech outside Low Yat Plaza on Sunday night before the situation turned ugly.

Meanwhile, the shopping complex's management said people should not believe in rumours spread on social media about what happened at the mall.

"The management of Plaza Low Yat urges the public to not believe in rumours or circulate inaccurate information that may cause the situation to escalate further and instead allow the police to complete their investigations.

"The police took swift action and we are fully cooperating with them," it said in a statement.

It said what took place at the shopping complex on Saturday was that a suspect was apprehended at 5.40pm for allegedly trying to steal a mobile phone from one of the kiosks.

"The incident was caught on CCTV camera and the evidence has been handed over to the police for investigation," said the management.

What followed afterwards was that a group of youths came and damaged another outlet, "citing retaliation as a reason" after their staff assisted in apprehending the suspect.

Federal Territories Malaysian Chinese Association Youth has lodged a police report against individuals who allegedly made racist remarks regarding the brawl.

Its vice-chairman Tan Kok Eng claimed one of the individuals was known as Roslan Ambri, who allegedly posted a racially-charged remark on his Facebook.

MCA quoted a Facebook status, allegedly posted by Roslan on July 12, saying that the Chinese would always cheat when conducting businesses and the Malays would fall victim.

Mr Tan also said he received information on a video that went viral on Facebook, depicting a man making an alleged racist speech in front of a group of youths, believed to be taken in front of the Low Yat Plaza.

"We feel that the statements are igniting hatred and tension among the races. MCA Youth request the police to take appropriate actions to maintain harmony in the country," said Mr Tan in his police report that was lodged at the Dang Wangi police headquarters on Tuesday.

Back at Low Yat Plaza, a few shoppers can still be seen milling around the quiet mall amid the numerous closed shops and kiosks.

Among the few shoppers on Monday were tourists unaware of the events that had transpired during the weekend.

American tourist Gabriel Cesser, 22, went into the mall to find a coffee shop.

"I thought most of the shops are closed due to Ramadan," said Mr Cesser upon stepping into the quiet mall.

He said that he was not aware of the melee on Saturday and the subsequent riot in the early hours of Monday.

He added that he has always felt safe in the city throughout his stay here and was surprised to hear of the weekend's events.

Ms Kylie Roswell, 27, of the United States, was spotted in the mall with fellow traveller Paola Spagui, 30, in search for a shop to fix her iPhone.

"We are staying with a local and she told us to come here to fix my phone," said Ms Roswell, adding that their host did not inform them of the weekend's events.

She added that had they known about the happenings, they would have been more cautious about coming to the area.

Local student Shahril Reza, 20, decided to still pay a visit to the mall to buy a wallpaper sticker for his laptop despite the incidents.

"I thought I'd still come here to look for the sticker because what's passed is past," said Mr Shahril, who was accompanied by his friends.

He said that he expected that a few shops would be closed, but was still hoping that he would find what he came for.

As of 2pm on Monday, a number of shops, especially on the lower floors, still stayed closed.