|After about two hours of “protest in the rain”, the 300 strong protestors at the Gombal toll today wanted the coalition against toll hike to continue organising more protest demonstrations until the Umno-led BN govt gives in to the demand of the rakyat, i.e.reduce toll fees and to review all concession contracts.The Bandar Mahkota Cheras Open Access Road Action Committee (BMC-OARAC) has invited the Coalition to hold a demo at the Grand Saga Cheras 11th mile toll plaza on the coming Sunday at 4pm. It would be on once endorsement was given by all members in the Coalition.
In my address to the protestors, I said the rakyat will continue to suffer as long as the Barisan Nasional is still in the gorvernment. The only way out for the people would be a change of government. I also asked the crowd to give a big hands to a couple who joined us from Kajang. They were at the Sunway Pyramid protest last Sunday and they again showed up at the Gombak toll today.The couple have two handicapped children to take care. You can imagine what kind of pressure and burden on their shoulders.
Hancurkan BN, Tidak Ada Tol!
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Protestors hold second toll demo
|About 300 people today gathered at the Gombak toll plaza at the Kuala Lumpur-Karak highway to protest against the recent toll hike.The protestors were keenly watched by about 50 policemen, including the anti-riot Federal Reserve Unit (FRU).The protesting crowd dispersed after about two hours without any untoward incident.
The demonstration was organised by Protes – a coalition of opposition parties, civil society groups, trade unions and student groups.
The protest, taking place at a petrol station some 500 meters from the toll plaza, caused the traffic to a standstill for about 20 minutes.
“Polis, polis. Jangan kacau! (Police, police! Don’t interrupt!),” shouted the protestors which consisted mainly of PAS and PKR leaders.
Among those who were at the protest were PKR vice-president R Sivarasa, PKR information chief Tian Chua, DAP leader Ronnie Liew, ex-ISA detainee and PAS leader Saari Sungip, PAS deputy youth chief Idris Ahmad and Gerakan Demokrasi dan Anti-Korupsi (Gerak) co-ordinator Badrul Hisham Shaharin.
The protest started at about 3pm, with an initial crowd of 50 people. Many other onlookers too gathered at the petrol station. Dozens of cars blocked the road leading to the petrol station.
Protestors blamed the toll hike on the BN ruling government, describing toll concessionaires as ‘baron robbers’. The group said any change to concession agreements would come only if the ruling government were voted out in the coming general elections.
“Hidup rakyat! Hancur BN! Hapuskan toll! Tukar tukar, kerajaan! (Long live the people! Destroy BN! Remove the tolls! Change the government!),” said the protestors.
Even a quick shower did not dampen the spirit of the protestors, which increased in numbers as the protest continued. Vehicles passing through the toll plaza also showed their support by sounding their horns.
The police sent two armoured vehicles but soon removed them from the protest spot. However several members of the public took this opportunity to take pictures in front of the vehicles.
Halfway through the protest, six FRU trucks moved in position but as with last week, police adopted its soft approach in crowd control.
After four calls to disperse, protestors ended their protest at 5pm. The FRU personnel which oversaw the dispersion consisted mostly of women.
Another protest planned
Protes committee member Tian Chua said that organizers are expected to hold another protest sometime within the next two weeks.
“Our turnout was not so large as we did not have so much time to prepare,” he said.
The demonstration today followed an earlier one in Sunway City along the LDP highway last Sunday. Then more than 2,000 people had gathered for the protest.
Beginning Jan 1, the toll rates for five major highways in the Klang Valley increased between 20 to 60 percent.
The Kuala Lumpur-Karak Highway’s Gombak toll is now at RM5, an increase of RM1, while the highway’s Bentong toll will increased by 50 sen to RM3.
The other four highways are Shah Alam Highway, Cheras-Kajang Highway, Damansara-Puchong Highway and the Guthrie Corridor Expressway.
(photographs by Bede Hong and Kuek Ser Kuang Keng)