KUALA LUMPUR (June 12, 2008): By Llew-Ann Phang
Police may have to close the road leading to the Kampung Baru Mosque after Friday prayer tomorrow following a plan by certain groups to stage a procession from the mosque to the Petronas Twin Towers to protest the fuel price hike.
Kuala Lumpur Police Chief Datuk Wira Muhammad Sabtu Osman said between 1,500 and 2,000 members of the security forces from the police, People's Volunteer Force (Rela) and Federal Reserve Unit (FRU) would be placed on alert to stop the procession.
"Personnel from the Dang Wangi District Police Station and Sentul will also help maintain security in the area. We will close several roads leading to the (mosque) area if necessary," he added.
He said the organisers of the procession did not apply for a permit from the district police chief but instead sent a letter to inform about the procession, reports Bernama.
Meanwhile, Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) adviser Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim confirmed that the PKR Youth wing and members of several non-governmental organisations (NGOs) would march from the Kampung Baru Mosque to the Petronas Twin Towers after Friday prayer today to protest against the petrol price hike.
In KOTA BARU, Kelantan Mentri Besar Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat described the federal government's moves in tackling the oil price hike as "not smart" because the approach taken had posed a big burden on the people.
He said as an oil producing country, the government had other options to stave off the effects of the global rise in oil price without having to increase the prices of petrol and diesel.
"I understand we have oil reserves for the next 20 years and natural gas reserves for 35 years. So, why not use cheaper resources such as the natural gas for vehicles (NGV).
"Besides being cheap, (natural) gas can also reduce air pollution. Why ignore this option and take the easy way out by raising petrol price and make the people suffer," he said in a media conference in his residence in Pulau Melaka here.
Nik Aziz, who is also the PAS spiritual leader, said the federal government must be more serious in increasing the number of petrol stations selling gas nationwide.
The government announced an increase of 78 sen in the price of petrol to RM2.70 per litre on June 7, which was an increase of 40 per cent from the previous price of RM1.92 per litre.
In PETALING JAYA, Llew-Ann Phang reports that the government's ongoing efforts to restructure the subsidy system has been labelled as "crazy" by a newly established coalition called Anti-Fuel Manipulation People's Movement (Geramm).
In a bid to show displeasure, the coalition hopes to gather some 5,000 to 10,000 people in Masjid Kampung Baru in Kuala Lumpur after prayers today.
This will be followed by a march to the Petronas Twin Towers in KLCC.
Asked if Geramm had obtained a police permit for the event, PKR Youth chief Shamsul Iskandar Mat Amin said a formal letter was submitted to the police and its representatives had spoken to Dang Wangi officers.
"We have not got a permit and we are not applying for one but we will discuss further with the police. Furthermore, I think the police will not disturb us because they are also affected by the hike. They will help us," he said in a press conference today.
Shamsul Iskandar said Geramm – whose official colour is red – was an apt acronym to the organisation as the people were angry and disappointed with the government’s move to raise the price of fuel by 78 sen to RM2.70 a litre.
"Geramm is also launching a nationwide petition to collate one million signatures, especially from the younger group who are deeply affected. The petition is also available on our website www.geramm.org and we are looking to mobilise the people to participate regularly in our protests," he added.
The press conference in PKR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s office was also chaired by PAS Youth secretary Ahmad Sabki Yusuf, People’s Welfare Union (Ikrar) chairman Mustapa Mansor and PKR Youth vice-chief Khairul Annuar Zainuddin.
Khairul Annuar said Geramm would organise more gatherings in time to come at mosques in various states, including Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Perak and Pahang.
"These gatherings have been scheduled for June 20 and 27 but in the gathering in Kampung Baru, PAS Youth Chief Salahuddin Ayub will be present," he added.
Shamsul Iskandar also pointed out that the price of submarine would pay for 90,000 low-cost houses, more than 110 schools and 45 hospitals.
"The commission of RM540 million can go toward 1,000 medical scholarships overseas, over half of Kelantan’s budget and a year 'sfree toll for the North-South Highway," he said.