(Updated 3:57pm, 24 March 2009)
SUNGAI PETANI, 24 March 2009: Police had to use a water cannon to disperse a 5,000-strong crowd at an unlawful assembly at the Taman Ria Jaya field here last night.
Several people including Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) supporters were arrested to help in the investigation.
PKR adviser Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was supposed to speak at the assembly which began at 8pm but was seen leaving the place in a vehicle when the situation turned chaotic.
The Federal Reserve Unit (FRU) had to fire teargas at the crowed when they repeatedly defied police orders to disperse.
Several people threw stones at the police.
The crowd finally dispersed at 1am after police sprayed water at them.
Kuala Muda OCPD ACP Hashim Ali said police had no choice but to act tough on the group.
“We cannot allow them to assemble unlawfully due to security. Moreover, the ceramah did not have a police permit,” he said.
Sungai Petani is in the Bukit Selambau constituency where a by-election is scheduled for 7 April. Nomination day is 29 March, a day after the Umno general assembly is concluded.
In ALOR SETAR, Kedah police chief Datuk Syed Ismail Syed Azizan said police detained 31 individuals, believed to be PKR supporters, for taking part in the unlawful assembly last night.
Syed Ismai said all of them, including two women, were released after their statements were taken this morning.
“They were detained for defying police orders to disperse,” he said when contacted. — Bernama