Thursday, May 29, 2008

Night of violence at the Cheras barricade

On a night filled with tension and anger, police detained three men and a woman for allegedly trying to ram a car into a line of riot police.

Five people also lodged police reports stating that they had been assaulted and one for damage to a car.

Residents at the scene alleged that as many as 20 people had been injured and several cars smashed by the unknown assailants.
Protests started when residents woke up to a concrete barricade rebuilt at the controversial access road earlier in the morning by Grand Saga. By evening, a crowd of at least 250 residents had gathered.
At 7.20pm, when residents pushed off a slab of concrete from the barricade a group of unidentified men rushed towards them wielding wooden sticks, bike helmets and, some residents claimed, metal rods and parang. The armed men shouted at the residents to stay away from the barricade.
Ean Yong Hian Wah, the State assemblyman for Seri Kembangan, arrived at 9pm and had to calm some riled-up residents, some of whom wanted to take quick revenge by destroying the Batu 11 toll booth.
“This problem should not be solved by violence. This is a legal matter and can only be settled in court,” he told residents, adding that he would be bringing up the issue at the Selangor exco meeting today.
According to Kajang district police chief Asst Commissioner Shakaruddin Che Mood, two of the five men who lodged reports were warded at hospitals for injuries to the head, one with a broken arm as well.
He added that three others who lodged reports were newsmen.
“Some of you who are not involved should be more careful and not get into the fray,” he told reporters.
He said police personnel were nearby when the attack started but could not reach the attackers in time as they were occupied with directing traffic.
Demonstrators returned after the attackers left to pull out one road sign from the ground and use it as lever to remove three more slabs at the barricade.
At 10pm, Federal Reserve Unit(FRU) and police arrived with a water cannon truck.
Residents dispersed and the remaining others were forced back.
When FRU personnel ordered all remaining residents to leave at midnight, one of the cars moving out of the area allegedly tried to ram into FRU personnel, according to police.
It subsequently collided with the car in front of it and FRU personnel surrounded the car.
The tussle resulted in police detaining three men, one shirtless and bloodied, and a girl.
State exco for Local Government, Study and Research Ronnie Liu, who arrived right after the four were detained, said he would be visiting those assaulted and would be requesting the Kajang Municipal Council to help open up the road today. However, he also said that this was a legal matter between companies and the residents should not be involved.
“The court has not allowed Grand Saga to barricade this area and they actually have no right to do this,” he said. He said Serdang MP Teo Nie Ching would call for an emergency motion in Parliament to discuss this issue.

Grand Saga executive director Zainal Abidin Ali had two days ago issued a statement saying: “Grand Saga will construct a barricade on the right of way at the indisputable portion of the concession area,” The controversy began in 2006 when Grand Saga upset residents by erecting a three-foot barricade to block an access road to the highway.

The barricade forced residents to take a 6km detour and pay a 90sen toll fee to get to Kuala Lumpur. Several other protests had taken place previously, one in which police fired tear gas and water cannons to disperse demonstrators on May 8.A number of court cases involving the toll concessionaire are still pending.

No comments: