Barred from setting up a stage at Batu Caves, Selangor Mentri Besar Khalid Ibrahim instead addressed a large Thaipusam crowd – from the back of a lorry, just like in the old days.
The view of the huge crowd from the lorry – Photo by an eyewitness
The police decision to dismantle the stage which the state government had set up came despite the Selayang Town Council’s approval of the location. The cops cited security grounds as the reason for their decision, but said the state government was welcome to set up a stage at any other location – a move that Selangor state exco member Dr Xavier Jayakumar described as illogical and vindictive.
The PM, accompanied by his wife Rosmah and Cabinet members, had arrived at 9.10pm and immediately launched into a charm offensive. See Malaysian Insider report here. They left at around 11.15pm.
Not to be outdone, Khalid, his state exco members, and the Adun for Batu Caves, Amir Sari, were then hoisted onto the back of a truck and spoke before a crowd of thousands near the viaduct not far from the main entrance to Batu Caves.
“When we got there this evening, we heard that the police had issued a warning that they would arrest us for illegal assembly if the planned stage was put up,” said a Selangor state exco member, when contacted. “But the local council came to our rescue and improvised with their enforcement truck.”
About 15 police personnel arrived while Khalid was speaking from the lorry but they were nudged aside by the large crowd, according to the exco member. Xavier then jumped down and negotiated with the police for “15 minutes more”.
Khalid and his colleagues later did a walkabout – and were warmly greeted by devotees.
This is the first time the Selangor state government is taking part in the celebration, with a tent at the venue serving almost like a state government ‘open house’.