PETALING JAYA • The Malaysian Prime Minister has warned that the government will not compromise with those who threaten the sensitivities of other races.
In a statement yesterday, Datuk Seri Najib Razak said that protesters who had incited racial hatred at Wednesday's "red shirts" rally in the heart of Kuala Lumpur would be investigated by police and charged under the Sedition Act.
The rally, dubbed the United Citizens' Assembly and Malay Dignity Gathering, was meant to counter last month's huge demonstration by electoral reform group Bersih, which some Malay groups see as a bid by the Chinese to usurp political power.
It ended peacefully although there was trouble in Petaling Street where Chinatown is located. The red shirts tried to break through barricades and clashed with police.
"That is why when they breached the prohibited area, the authorities acted to disperse them even though they were forced to use water cannon," said Mr Najib.
He also explained why the organisers of the red shirts rally had been granted a permit by the police while the Bersih 4 rally was declared illegal.
Mr Najib said the Bersih rally organisers wanted to topple the government and demonstrate at a venue close to where the National Day parade preparations were taking place. Despite this, he noted that the Bersih rally was allowed by the authorities to be held without any restrictions.
The red shirts, on the other hand, had no intention of toppling the government and had received the consent of the Kuala Lumpur City Hall to hold their gathering at Padang Merbok.
There were also no preparations for another event at the venue, the Prime Minister said.
Meanwhile, life in Petaling Street has resumed its usual hustle and bustle after the red shirts' rally.
Kuala Lumpur Hawkers and Petty Traders Association chairman Ang Say Tee said all 773 traders and 500 shops resumed business on Thursday. During the rally on Wednesday, most shops in the area were closed.
"There are a lot of people today. Tourists and shoppers all have returned and we are happy the vendors can open because everyone is trying to make a living," said Mr Ang, adding that the one-day closure had affected many businesses.
He said the police were carrying out patrols to make sure everyone was safe.
British tourist Neil Hanney, 49, said he felt safe going to Petaling Street. "I heard accounts of what happened on the news when I reached the city but with the police everywhere, I felt it would be fine to come here," he said.
THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK