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Thursday, May 31, 2012

RM150,000 ‘Bersih’ bill for RapidKL


The public transport company claimed to suffer nearly RM150,000 in damages following the violence that erupted in Kuala Lumpur on April 28.
KUALA LUMPUR: The chaos that erupted during the April 28 Bersih 3.0 rally seems to have cost public transport company RapidKL a total of RM146,417.
According to a source familiar with RapidKL, this was divided into property damages (RM21,700) and the loss in revenue for RapidKL’s buses (RM124,717).
The source told FMT that the loss of revenue for RapidKL’s Ampang and Kelana Jaya Light Rail Transit (LRT) lines were not included in this amount.
This total was also listed, the source said, in a May 4 police report made by RapidKL’s legal department against Bersih 3.0′s leaders at the Dang Wangi police station.
When asked if the company would sue Bersih’s organisers, the source said: “We will let the police finish their investigations before any civil action starts. We haven’t done anything yet.”
(About 40% of RapidKL’s 166 bus routes were shut down by the company that day, following road closures.)
Thousands of people fleeing tear gas and water cannons fired at them near Dataran Merdeka on April 28 rushed towards the Masjid Jamek LRT station.
They were fired upon by riot police after hundreds of Bersih protesters breached the barricades set up to keep them from gathering at Dataran Merdeka.
Vengeful protesters
According to the source, RapidKL staff were waiting to manage the 80,000-plus crowd who were expected to disperse in the area at about 3pm.
“When [Bersih leader] S Ambiga was telling the crowd to disperse [at the time], we were getting ready to usher people with extra coin tokens [for rides] and change to help people disperse back home,” the source said.
However, that changed when the tear gas and water cannons were fired into the crowd, causing many protesters to converge on the LRT station in a mad rush.
This, the source said, forced them to close the station’s shutters.
“We closed the shutters [to the station] only when the tear gas was fired, as we were afraid of a stampede. There would have been a stampede if we opened [the gates].”
“We found little children standing around, and caught people running [away from the tear gas] on the [Ampang line] train tracks.”
“If we opened the shutters, people would have died. Can you imagine [what would have happened] if someone were to die in our station?” the source said.
Damages to the station’s included vandalism to its roller shutters, gate barriers and other equipment.
Auxiliary police on duty at the station, according to the source, were also pelted with water bottles by vengeful protesters.

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