By Shannon Teoh
KUALA LUMPUR, May 14 — Police will not act against traders who set up a burger stall in front of Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan’s home on Thursday despite the Bersih chief claiming it was an invasion of her privacy.
Deputy IGP Datuk Khalid Abu Bakar (picture) told reporters today the force will not act against the Malaysia Small and Medium Entrepreneurs Alliance (Ikhlas), which now plans a repeat on May 24 with 500 traders who claim the April 28 Bersih rally disrupted their business.
“What offence? If you want to sit in front of her house without disrupting other people, there is no offence.
“As long as they don’t commit any offence such as trespassing on private property, we will not take action,” Khalid told a press conference here.
“They didn’t enter her house, they were in a public space,” he said, adding that under the recently-enforced Peaceful Assembly Act all parties should be allowed to conduct peaceful gatherings.
The protest by Ikhlas came after chaotic scenes on April 28 when some Bersih supporters breached a barricade around Dataran Merdeka which was set up after police obtained a court order barring the public from the historic square.
The square is normally open to public and is also leased out for government agencies and corporate bodies holding large-scale events.
On Thursday, members of Ikhlas held a “burger protest” outside the Ambiga’s Bukit Damansara house here after claiming a loss of income amounting to RM200,000 due to tens of thousands rallying in the city centre two weeks ago.
About 10 traders and some individuals dressed in Barisan Nasional (BN) uniform prepared about 200 burgers during their hour-long protest and offered some to Ambiga, who is vegetarian, as well as to reporters covering the event.
But Ambiga told the traders to file their claim for the losses suffered in court instead of holding protests outside her house.
“Is it right to invade 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,” the former Bar Council president had said.
Ikhlas is now planning to stage a larger protest as they “want the rally organisers to take responsibility for their actions and compensate traders.”
Umno-linked Berita Harian also accused Ambiga of hypocrisy for saying the traders had invaded her privacy, saying 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 before heading to Dataran Merdeka was peaceful until about 2.30pm when Ambiga asked the crowd to disperse.
But her call was not heard by most of the crowd who persisted around the historic square which the court had already barred to the public over the 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 the 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 some protestors flipped it on its side.