KUALA LUMPUR, April 24 — Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) has justified its clampdown on Occupy Dataran activists, saying that it had given the movement many “chances” before finally deciding to take action today.
This is despite the fact that legal provisions, specifically the local ordinances, gave City Hall the power to do so.
“We’re not using any new laws. The ‘undang-undang kecil Dataran Merdeka’ has been there for more than 10 years.
“We gave these people a chance before, gave them chances to stop it, to walk away. They did not heed our advice... so we took action today,” DBKL’s corporate planning division head Dr Ismail Stapa told The Malaysian Insider.
“The by-law has always been there, its just that we did not enforce it before today. Now we are left with no choice but to do so,” he stressed.
DBKL detained four pro-Occupy Dataran activists today, hours after chasing the movement away from Dataran Merdeka.
DBKL officers had earlier this morning seized tents and camping equipment belonging to Occupy Dataran activists, and put up steel barricades to stop them from camping there.
“Anyone who wants to use Dataran Merdeka, they have to get permission from the mayor. You cannot have demonstrations or political gatherings there, that is how it has always been.
“Even if you want to lepak (hang out) there, sometimes you can’t simply do that,” Ismail said.
Two days ago, DBKL officers along with the police seized camping equipment and tents and arrested two activists. One of them was charged in court yesterday with obstructing a public officer in the execution of his duty.
Asked to comment on DBKL’s actions today, Mayor Tan Sri Ahmad Fuad Ismail reiterated Dataran Merdeka could not be occupied illegally.
“Action will be taken against them (those who occupy the venue illegally),” he told reporters.
Occupy Dataran’s stated aim is to reclaim public spaces for the purpose of promoting participatory democracy.
The campsite was also shared by student activists demanding the elimination of the National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) loan scheme, but they had suspended all activities and vacated the area to make way for a royal concert.
Today’s clampdown comes four days before this weekend’s Bersih 3.0 rally.