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Protesters disrupt New Year eve concert at Merdeka Square
KUALA LUMPUR: The New year's eve concert at the Merdeka Square had to be called off about 30 minutes before the countdown as protesters broke through the police cordon to seize the stage.
More than 10,000 revellers at the concert organised by the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) were apparently devastated over the incident.
The protesters came from all directions and gathered in front of the stage, screaming "reformasi" (reform) and "turun" (down).
As of 11pm, the police estimated about 4,000 participants of an unlawful assembly, comprising mostly youths in black T-shirts, gathered around the Merdeka Square. They trotted in since 7pm.
The concert, which started at 8.30pm went on smoothly until the protesters broke through the police barricade and headed for the stage, causing the concert to be called off at 11.30pm.
Mayor Datuk Seri Ahmad Phesal went up to the stage and told the protestors to calm down and behave themselves.
Instead, they heckled him and continued shouting 'reformasi' and 'turun' and threw water bottles at the stage, hitting members of the media covering the event.
About 2,000 police and DBKL enforcement officers cordoned the stage to prevent it from being seized by the demonstrators.
The streetlights in the area were switched off but the protestors did not budge and continued shouting and singing.
A group of the protestors later raided a reception tent and grabbed food and drinks meant for guests.
The New Year's eve revellers were dismayed that the concert had to be called off due to rowdyism.
"The protestors should air their grievances through proper channels and not cause uneasiness among people," said bank officer Mohamad Hamdan Anas, 34.
He said the protest could be misconstrued by tourists that Malaysia was not a safe place to visit.
A private sector employee, Noraini Azman, 28, said the protest had upset her family as they came to usher in the new year at the concert.
Although fireworks lit up the night sky at midnight, the celebration was dampened as the countdown was cancelled due to a commotion. -- Bernama