KUALA LUMPUR, Apr 2 – Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad took part in the anti-GST rally at the Dataran Merdeka here, this afternoon. Mahathir, who arrived at 5.15pm accompanied by his wife, Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali paraded about 2,000 protesters into the main stage where he was welcomed by the president of Parti Amanah Negara, Mohamad Sabu.
His arrival was widely shared on social media using the #BebasAnwar and #BantahGST hashtags. After delivering a short speech, he led the crowd in reciting a closing prayer before officially ending the rally. Soon after, the crowds dispersed before 6pm. Police continued to monitor the situation with PDRM uniformed officers sighted among the rally-goers.
Authorities have blocked the interchange between Jalan Tun Perak and Jalan Raja near Dataran Merdeka from 3pm as protesters defied police orders and poured into the area surrounding Dataran Merdeka for their protest against the goods and services tax, almost one year since its initial implementation.
The gathering is organised by Parti Amanah Negara and supported by DAP and PKR. An update earlier in the afternoon at 3.50 pm puts an estimate of thousands of protesters on the ground near Dataran Merdeka, according to updates shared on social media.
With the hashtag #BantahGST the group first rallied at Sogo, then proceeded to march to Dataran Merdeka and chanting ‘’hidup rakyat’ with PKR’s Batu MP Tian Chua and PKR’s vice president Nurul Izzah Anwar having delivered their speech as well as those from AMANAH and DAP. Also seen were PKR’s Saifuddin Abdullah and Nik Nazmi.
According to media reports, most of the protesters are mainly the leaders and party members of Parti Amanah Negara and Otai Reformasi, with Light Strike Force personnel on standby. Dang Wangi police chief Assistant Commissioner Zainol Samah had announced to the media on 31 March that the police haven’t received a complete application from the organisers therefore the police and the Kuala Lumpur City Hall have denied permission for use of Dataran Merdeka.