KUALA LUMPUR, May 13 – Some 500 traders plan to hold a protest outside Bersih co-chair Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan’s house on May 24 over the April 28 Bersih rally for free and fair elections, which they say disrupted their business.
“We are planning to stage a protest... as we want the rally organisers to take responsibility for their actions and compensate traders,” Malaysia Small and Medium Entrepreneurs Alliance (Ikhlas) president Mohd Ridzuan Abdullah was quoted as saying by The New Sunday Times.
“Our members have financial obligations to settle, such as bank and car loans. We want compensation from rally organisers for the losses our members suffered,” he added.
“A day’s taking means a lot to us and we barely get by on what we earn.”
He also urged the Home Ministry and police to take action against Bersih and opposition members who had allegedly instigated the rally.
On Thursday, members of Ikhlas held a “burger protest” outside the former Bar Council president’s Bukit Damansara house after claiming a loss of income amounting to RM 200,000 due to tens of thousands rallying in the city centre two weeks ago.
About 10 traders and a few individuals dressed in Barisan Nasional (BN) uniforms prepared about 200 burgers during their hour-long protest and offered some to Ambiga, who is vegetarian, as well as reporters covering the event.
They also hung a burger on the gate of her house, which was removed by her bodyguard.
But Ambiga told the traders to file their claim for losses suffered in court instead of holding protests outside her house.
“Is it right to invade the privacy of another individual, where privacy has no meaning? I’m not saying they cannot make a claim but they are not entitled to come to my home and behave in this manner. I would have to lodge a police report because... this is not about me but the whole neighbourhood and family,” she had said.
But Umno-linked Berita Harian accused Ambiga of hypocrisy for saying the traders had invaded her privacy, adding that the Bersih chief should now “get the message how much the public hated the Bersih gathering”.
The April 28 rally that saw tens of thousands gather at six different locations in central KL before heading to Dataran Merdeka was peaceful until about 2.30pm when Ambiga asked the crowd to disperse.
But her announcement was not heard by most of the crowd who persisted to linger around the historic square which the court had already ruled as being inaccessible to the public over that particular weekend.
Just before 3pm, some protestors breached the barricade surrounding the landmark, leading police to disperse the crowd with tear gas and water cannons.
Police then continued to pursue rally-goers down several streets amid chaotic scenes which saw violence from both sides over the next four hours.
Several dozen demonstrators have claimed that they were assaulted by groups of over 10 policemen at a time and visual evidence appears to back their claim but police also point to violence from rally-goers who also attacked a police car.
The police car then crashed into a building before a few protestors flipped it on its side.