2 stadiums offered as alternate Bersih rally venue

Above: Federal Territory Bumiputera Traders president Datuk Rosli Sulaiman at the City Hall headquarters in Jalan Raja Laut yesterday.

KUALA LUMPUR - The management of Bukit Jalil National Stadium and Stadium Merdeka have agreed to allow Bersih organisers to use them as the venue for their rally on Saturday.

"The issue here is not the sit-in protest but the location.

"We have no problem if they (Bersih) have it at Stadium Merdeka, Bukit Jalil, Cheras or Titiwangsa," Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein posted on his Twitter page yesterday.

Bersih had earlier accused the government and City Hall of giving "mixed signals" on the issue.

Its steering committee yesterday announced that the sit-in protest would proceed as planned at Dataran Merdeka despite City Hall's objections.

Bersih had filed for permission to stage the assembly at the historic venue to City Hall and the police, but were sent a rejection letter by the Dang Wangi police on Monday.

Meanwhile, taxi drivers and traders yesterday urged Bersih 3.0 organisers to hold their rally in a closed venue, preferably in a stadium, to avoid traffic congestion and disturbances that could affect their day's takings.

The Malaysian Association of Taxi/Limousine Drivers and Operators and Car Rental Operators (Petekma) yesterday lodged a police report against the rally, expected to be held at Dataran Merdeka on Saturday afternoon.

Petekma deputy president Syahrir Abdul Aziz said the sit-down demonstration, organised by Bersih would disrupt their members' income for the day.

"Our average daily income is about RM150 and after deducting rental and other costs, the average take-home amount is RM60. If the rally is held at Dataran Merdeka, no passenger would want to go into town, meaning we will lose a large chunk of our income for the day," Syahrir said outside the Dang Wangi police headquarters yesterday, adding that Petekma would not mind if the gathering was held in an indoor stadium instead.

"We are not trying to prevent them from demonstrating but please take it elsewhere where the livelihood of others is not disrupted. We do not mind sending their supporters to an indoor destination.

"If the coalition is fighting for justice and reforms, then we want our opinions to be heard as well. We are not pro-government but the previous two Bersih rallies have hit us hard financially."

Earlier yesterday, the Federal Territory Bumiputera Traders president Datuk Rosli Sulaiman handed over a memorandum to Kuala Lumpur mayor Tan Sri Ahmad Fuad Ismail over Bersih 3.0 at the City Hall headquarters in Jalan Raja Laut.

They are against the rally being held at Dataran Merdeka or any other public venue which could affect their businesses.

Yesterday, however, Bersih held an emergency meeting and the members unanimously decided to proceed with the demonstration at Dataran Merdeka.

According to a statement on the Bersih website, the emergency meeting had been called to consider the statement made by Hishammuddin on Sunday that Merdeka Stadium or Bukit Jalil Stadium be used for the gathering.

Bersih also pointed out that Fuad had offered Cheras Stadium or Titiwangsa Stadium, contradict-ing what Hishammuddin had offered.

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