Malaysia to divert traffic, suspend some train services ahead of street protest

Operations at 25 MRT, LRT, Monorail and KTM stations within the Dang Wangi area will be temporarily ceased from 7am. PHOTO: REUTERS

KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysian police on Friday (Jan 21) said it has obtained a seven-day court order to block public protests at an area in downtown Kuala Lumpur.

Police is also diverting traffic and suspending several train services into the area that often serves as the centre for rallies: the Dataran Merdeka square, Sogo mall and the Masjid Jamek area.

The police move came following a planned demonstration on Saturday (Jan 22) by political activists and opposition politicians to demand government action against Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief commissioner, Tan Sri Azam Baki.

In response, the organisers of the #Arrest Azam Baki rally said on Friday evening that they plan to move the rally site away from downtown KL. The rally would be held at the Bangsar LRT site instead, several kilometres away from the original site of protest.

The Arrest Azam Baki Action Committee claimed the campaign is supported by 33 non-governmental organisations and 11 political organisations. The committee said the rally would be conducted peacefully in accordance with health protocols to minimise the spread of  Covid-19 and the safety of Malaysians as a whole.

Mr Azam, Malaysia's No.1 graft buster, has raised a huge outcry after admitting to buying stocks in 2015 of two listed companies using his trading account, but which he said were done on behalf of his brother.

The amount is reported by the media to be worth RM1 million (S$320,000), which would have breached rules prohibiting public officials from owning more than RM100,000 of any company.

Mr Azam said the stocks have been transferred to his brother Nasir Baki.

The securities watchdog, Securities Commission, said this week that Mr Azam had control of the trading account.

The opposition and even some within Malaysia's ruling coalition wanted Mr Azam to step aside while a full probe is conducted. Mr Azam has refused to step down and has insisted he did not break any laws.

Police chief of Dang Wangi district, Assistant Commissioner Noor Dellhan Yahaya, said on Friday that a court order has been obtained from the Magistrate's court on Jan 20.

"Until today, we have not received any information or contact from the (protest) organisers.

"I would like to remind the public that we are still under Phase 4 of the National Recovery Plan of the Covid-19 pandemic," he told reporters on Friday (Jan 21).

"Such assemblies are in violation of Rule 9 (prohibition of processions) and Rule 10 (control of gatherings) of the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Regulations," he said.

He said police would divert traffic along six major roads within the Dang Wangi district from 7am on Saturday (Jan 22) until the end of the gathering.

"Operations at 25 MRT, LRT, Monorail and KTM stations within the Dang Wangi area will also be temporarily ceased from 7am," he said.

Police will deploy 1,010 personnel on the ground to ensure no untoward incidents occurred.

ACP Noor Dellhan also said so far, police had recorded statements of 16 people, including five politicians, to assist in investigations into the rally.

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