1,000 join pro-NEP protest in Penang

pro NEP protest

A friend of mine provides an eye-witness account and pictures of the pro-NEP demonstration around Komtar, Penang, this afternoon. (The Komtar tower houses the offices of the Penang state government offices and the Chief Minister.) The crowd, which included several Umno leaders and reps in the state, were protesting against Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng’s declaration that the new DAP-led state government would discontinue New Economic Policy (NEP) policies.

Here is the eye-witness account:

At about 2.55pm, I was walking through Komtar and out from the third floor at the Maybank entrance. At first, I saw people lining the balcony railing looking down to three FRU trucks being loaded up with personnel. There was a strong police presence (though not intimidating), vehicles and personnel and a curious but not ruffled crowd.

When I asked, I was told the new chief minister was coming. A bit of a heavy welcome, I thought. So I followed the crowd and walked to Jalan Ria where I could both see and hear a large banner-waving crowd.


As I could not hear what they were chanting and could not decipher their banners, I can only describe what I saw and felt. Firstly, there was, at that time, no sense of tension either from the crowd or the marchers. The marchers at the front were young mainly male and evidently Muslim. Further back, the marchers were a mix of ages and sexes as well as ethnicities, though I would say they were probably all Muslim – Indian and Malay.

All seemed to be peaceful when I left the scene. Although there was a helicopter overhead, there didn’t seem to be any tear gas or water cannon truck lurking in the background, just FRU directing the march and guiding the traffic.


One thing though – there was a slight awkwardness in the marchers… and unfamiliarity… as if they were not from Penang, at least not from the island. They looked a little out of their familiar territory – just an observation.


Well, thankfully everything ended peacefully. Indeed, the FRU should be commended for acting with restraint in sharp contrast to the way their counterparts in KL handled the Hindraf protests.

Earlier, theSun quoted Chief Minister Guan Eng as saying:

“We believe in the freedom of speech and assembly as long as it is peaceful. Anybody who wants to protest, we have no qualms about it but please do it based on facts and not based on certain interests or to try and test the state government,” he said.

Speaking in a press conference after a meeting with 21 Muslim non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in his office in Komtar, Lim said the state government is a united front that should not be tested on their commitment to represent all Penangites.

“Don’t test us on our commitment towards establishing integrity and accountability and don’t test us on our commitment to listen to all the voices of Penangites,” he said.

“If they want to come and give their views, we are willing to listen but if they want to demonstrate, that is their right. I hope they won’t provoke sentiments that are not true,” he added.

He was commenting on a plan by certain groups to stage a protest in Komtar against the state government’s stand in not using the New Economic Policy (NEP) but an open tender system instead.

“We will not back down on the open tender system because the NEP is associated with corruption, cronyism and inefficiency,” Lim reiterated.

“We want an open tender system but they raised so much hue and cry. If they want to test us, they can go ahead and test us. We have the full exco support on this and we won’t back down on that,” he said.

Earlier, on his meeting with the 21 Muslim organisations, Lim again reiterated that the state government has no intention of sidelining any group or races.

“We are a state government for all and we listen to the voices of the people and we want to represent everyone in Penang,” he said.

He reassured Muslims that the state government emphasised on integrity and the status of Islam in the state will never be disputed.

“Please do not listen to any rumours about the state government wanting to tone down Azan (the call for prayers) or anything like that. In fact, this is the first time I’ve heard about such things,” he said.

Meanwhile, Malaysiakini quotes Zaid Ibrahim, the former Umno MP for Kota Bharu as saying that Guan Eng should not have been too hasty:

“I find it very shocking to see today that DAP is being very arrogant too. First day in office – Lim Guan Eng (Penang chief minister) made this statement about NEP,” he said.

“This is not the time to stir everyone’s feelings. Our race relations are still fragile and those elected should just stop talking and get on with the job.”…

“A good leader should be able to say the good part of NEP, which is to help the marginalised group, should be continued. The NEP which helps selected individuals to enrich themselves will be stopped. That’s all he should have said, not provocative statements,” said Zaid.

“This is something which Guan Eng should be mindful of. TV3, the newspapers and the radio stations must also stop pitting the Malays against the non-Malays. It is so dangerous.

Interestingly enough, Penang Umno leaders have proposed to the federal government to withdraw funding for all mega-projects in Penang. Guan Eng has described the call as akin to cutting their nose to spite their face – and an act of revenge.

Actually, Umno’s call to end the Penang mega projects such as the Penang Outer Ring Road could be a blessing in disguise. Everyone knows that Penang is already terribly congested. A delay in the mega projects would give civil society groups and the new state government in Penang more time to look into more sustainable alternatives to improve public transport, preserve the environment, reduce traffic and create more green spaces and parks. Guan Eng should explore these alternatives rather than rely on mega projects that earn huge profits for a few privileged corporations.The state government must also implement development projects that truly empower and uplift the lives of marginalised communities – in other words, people-centred, holistic development – rather than put much hope on mega projects.

Here is an article I wrote for Aliran Monthly:

Is the BN’s economic model sustainable?

Is our current model of economic development sustainable in the long-run, wonders Anil Netto. What will happen when our oil wells dry up? What has been the environmental cost? These are issues that our political parties – both the BN and the Opposition – must address. Full article

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30 Jun 2009 11.34pm

When I read the news about Hindraf will go on march again against somebody wron doing I am happy to hear it. As I read along Hindraf using an 8 years girl to submit the pertition that really kills all my mood. Whoever wrong doing in the politics are all sellfish adults. PLEASE leave the young children out. They have no need for children to be there. I am sorry if I offen someone but I am more sorry that these people using children as a gimmick. Sincerly I don’t feel pity to whatever your are protesting when these people… Read more »

6 May 2008 1.06pm

sudah ludah jilat balik..
demonstrasi plak tak kene tempat..
kalau bersih dulu yang ade tujuan yang jelas pon kene sapu..
ini takde ape2 polis2 sume buat relax je..
bias bias…

14 Mar 2008 11.08pm

Classic example of UMNO can but others cannot. Did anyone from UMNO Perlis helped the woman in (the) scandal (there)? Or former Melaka CM’s scandal (UMNO Melaka)? Or the Mongolian’s murder case? Did (a certain top leader) share any of his commissions with the poor Bumi? Did Khairy do anything to help the poor, weak and helpless? Just now PM was on TV and continued his (spin).

Barisan Rakyat – pls save the people from UMNO.

15 Mar 2008 12.11am

you know lah many people will talk here and there and one of the thing i heard was that “most of the crowd were imported from KL by the son-in-law”.

peace lover
peace lover
14 Mar 2008 11.10pm

malaysia is a peaceful country, why demonstrate to create such a fuss?? dun be a sore loser, just learn to accept losses & learn what the rakyat wants. the rakyat has spoken & give others a chance to make changes… malaysian rakyat is more educated and they will be able to see for themselves what is right and what is wrong.

who is creating racial tension now?? malaysia is a multi racial country and all luv peace. stop all the nonsense…

15 Mar 2008 12.18am

To commenter Noor Aza Othman (6.06pm , 14 march)

Why you so angry with PAS. Did you know how the selaction of MB in Perak?
All the BA team are request by Sultan to submit 3 list of names and the Sultan will make the decision. ( u ni buta perlembagaan ke?)
Sultan dah buat keputusan dan nampaknya awak kene belajar lagi undang2 dan perlembagaan negeri. Jangan main hentam kromo sahaja.
Saya tidak nampak PAS gila kuasa. Apa kamu cuba untuk memburukan parti yang menperjuangkan agama. Adakah PAS megenepikan org bukan Islam. Jgn celik mata sahaja tapi buta hati.

Mamat Ali
Mamat Ali
15 Mar 2008 12.30am

hey I saw some page saying getting RM80 per person, how come I only get RM50?????????

A Concern Citizen
A Concern Citizen
15 Mar 2008 12.39am

Pak Lah should say something against such demonstrations as it is not good for the economic stability of Malaysia as a whole. He should remind all citizens that we are after all, a Democratic society and as such, the minority must respect and comply with the majority consensus as we have practised for 50 odd years. Such demonstrations are anti-democratic and as such should be regarded as a threat to the constitution of our beloved country and all that we ( Malaysian ) stands for. I hope Pak Lah will do the right thing…such demonstration can only be percieved as… Read more »

15 Mar 2008 5.59pm

I hope the new selected Penang Government will not be as arrogant as BN. It’s truth that being a goverment will not be the same as being opposition.Changes need to be done but it need to be carried out wisely. If it is effective the people of Penang will see it. It would not be necessary for Penang”sCM to made publish annoucement on NEP.It only leading to more coax or giving opportunity for those who wish to create conflict.Peace is foundation for the new government to move on and prove their leadership in Penang.I truly hope the CM take this… Read more »

Fed Up
Fed Up
15 Mar 2008 12.35am

Let them do whatever they want to… Ignore / Snub them.. Don’t give them our attention.. They’ll fade away in time… The ruling party has got better things to do.. Do not disturb them.. These are BN (Opposition) tactics… to distract and provoke…
Anyone heard about current happenings in Perlis?? MB (old) vs MB(new)….

Yosef Chong
Yosef Chong
15 Mar 2008 1.06am

wow it is very heartening to see so many people of diff races on all this forum/blog whatever we call it, unite and say no to corrupt practises as well as nepo-thingy, crony-thingy and so many other flawed policies that were supposed to help the poor-daif rakyat. Hey frens i salute all of u n we as the Rakyat must unite to stamp out these childish if not contradicting ways of our current few who are purely sore losers. KUDOS RAKYAT….I used to dislike Malaysia n felt left out as our polarisation could be felt, but now i am totally… Read more »

15 Mar 2008 1.14am

I agree with Penang Youth, UMNO can only play with slogans but in practicality they have zero values. Today’s march is a strong evidence that UMNO can only preach but can’t follow what they preached. I understand today’s gathering was illegal and police didn’t give any permit. This was a racist gathering. threatening the DAP and Non-Malays again. Pak Lah used to say that, “I am a Prime Minister for all”, and our IGP Musa said, the police will remain neutral, but today I saw both were biased. No efforts were made to dispersed the crowd. Police helped them a… Read more »

15 Mar 2008 12.12pm

Someone should stop TV3 from airing slanted views and issues that only that potray the DAP-PKR-PAS as the enemy of the state.They show interviews of illegal demonstrators in Penang.Not one but three.They show the wrong side of the picture to create hatred among the people who have voted DAP-PKR-PAS.They are afraid and not willing to show the real story of Malaysians not voting for the Barisan National.There are Malays who do not want the NEP. They should interview these people and see the real picture.
Someone should stop TV3 and RTM.

sarawak kampong boy
sarawak kampong boy
15 Mar 2008 12.04pm

It really sadden me to see such actions taken by the UMNO Looking at it it is the Leader of Penang UMNO who incite racial tension in this issue. No doubt the principle of NEP is good but the BN have used it to benefit themselves rather than the poor malay at the bottom. I pray that all parties concern will give the new state government a chance to prove themselves I believe if the new Barisan Rakyet of Penang prove themselves to be a model Government, it will create a domino effect and I believe this is what the… Read more »

15 Mar 2008 11.08am

The thing about this protest is I see there were lots of dark (complexioned) Malays. Most look like Indian Muslim anyway and they were shouting Hidup Melayu on top of their voices. These Indian Muslim will do anything to become a Malay. And I saw the ex deputy CM of Penang speaks, what a shocking display, can’t even talked properly, wonder how he became the deputy CM. The UMNO leaders were threatening openly about this is not the last demo and it is only the beginning of major big one and it is only going to be bigger. Talk bout… Read more »

15 Mar 2008 9.55am

I was there and I witnessed quite a number of them, especially the Malays, were at a loss as they trooped up Komtar to the 2nd floor. Looks like they are unfamiliar with the surroundings. Ppl from elsewhere – that’s my educated guess….Troublemakers imported by the sore losers, UMNOputras!

15 Mar 2008 9.25am

if Anwar Ibrahim is a traitor for telling the world that Malaysian leaders were corrupt and racist isnt UMNO Penang a traitor to the Penang people for asking the Federal Government to stop all Mega projects in Penang ? …UMNO Penang is behaving like a sore loser. Just because they cannot (allegedly) “membelot harta rakyat” in the name of Mega projects they want the projects to be cancelled all together. Just a few days ago Prime Minister said that DEB is for all Malaysians irrespective of race so no reason to dismantle the DEB. All the UMNO yes men also… Read more »

15 Mar 2008 7.30am

DEB hanya menguntung besar kepada elite-elite & coloni-coloni Umno saja. Itu sebab ramai kaum Melayu masih hidup sensara & miskin. MAS, Celcom, Maxis, Proton & Produa, Bank-bank, Lembaga-lembaga cukai, air, lektrik, perumahan, & jambatan-jambatan traffic, empangan, kejuruteraan, import-export, hasil-tanah dll…….. semua disebut tu dipegang oleh Melayu tu sendiri, “so” 50 tahun dah. kenapa Kaum Melayu masih miskin? “so where is the money gone???”

15 Mar 2008 4.01am

… look our neighbour singapore is one of the top in asia without BN!

15 Mar 2008 2.22am

Hello Anil ! You have written a very insightful article arising from the Sub-prime mortgage problem, of which I was not too clear about. After reading your article I can see that it looks very much the 1997 problem that got Asia undone by the same people from the US and I suppose from EU. I believe in one wise and ancient saying that nothing comes from nothing; and no matter how clever you are you just cannot pump up hot air and expect it to remain the same all the time, what goes up must eventually come down. The… Read more »

14 Mar 2008 11.02pm

Please ask those people to read this news by PM Abdullah


NEP Ended In 1991, MAPEN In Place Now

So there is no need for protest.

malayisa born
malayisa born
14 Mar 2008 10.49pm

Thisis just so pathetic of them. Definetely a bunch of lost & clueless souls who have ot the faintest idea that they had been screwed all these while.

Either that or they are a bunch of poor losers who is now losing the taste of the ‘good’ life and lavish lifestyles acquired by corrupted means.

Somebody get the ACA to put their leaders in prison qucik!

14 Mar 2008 10.42pm

From the Star
‘Among those who participated in the hour-long street protest were Penang Umno secretary and state opposition leader Datuk Azhar Ibrahim, former deputy Chief Minister Datuk Abdul Rashid Abdullah, Kepala Batas Umno Youth deputy chief Reezal Merican Naina Merican, Bukit Mertajam Umno division chief Senator Datuk Musa Sheikh Fadzir, Tanjung Umno division chief Datuk Ahmad Ibnihajar and former Penanti assemblyman Datuk Abdul Jalil Abdul Majid.’

Isn’t Reezal Merican Naina Merican the leader of DAMAI Malaysia who came out with x number of ‘NGOs’ to say that Malaysians want peace and not demonstrations?


14 Mar 2008 10.11pm

The pm stokes the racial discord He talks about NEP and Malays Then conveniently he says he is pm for all Malaysians Why the contradiction? He just doesn’t know what he says Trying to say something defending his race And forgetting the other races Warning Guan Eng on NEP This is unbecoming of a federal leader NEP benefits the UMNO and its cronies This has been allegedly written many times The poor and village folks don’t benefit it Now UMNO Penang staged demonstration Who is telling lie now? PM says demonstration isn’t the way Now his party members did it… Read more »

14 Mar 2008 10.04pm

PAS leaders has already ask all Muslim not to participate in any UMNO rally.(HarakahDaily)