SINGAPORE: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) has advised Singaporeans to defer all non-essential travel to Kuala Lumpur in light of rallies taking place at various locations in and around the Malaysian capital on Saturday (Dec 8).
"According to media reports, a large-scale rally will take place in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, at Dataran Merdeka on Dec 8, 2018. Current indications are that turnout at the event may number in the tens of thousands," MFA said in a travel advisory on Friday.
"There are also media reports of another large rally taking place in Petaling Jaya at Padang Timur on the same day.
"As with large congregations or demonstrations, there is a possibility that limited and isolated skirmishes might take place. There may also be traffic disruptions and other disturbances that will impact travellers."
The advisory said Singaporeans should defer non-essential travel to Kuala Lumpur, and those who are in the city should stay vigilant and avoid large gatherings, as well as monitor local media for developments and heed the instructions of local authorities.
The anti-ICERD (International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination) rally is taking place at Dataran Merdeka in the heart of Kuala Lumpur despite the Malaysian government's announcement that it was no longer going to ratify ICERD.
On Friday afternoon, Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM) chairman Razali Ismail issued a statement to say that its human rights day celebration, scheduled for Saturday at the Padang Timur in Petaling Jaya, would be "postponed to a later date".
Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad had been due to attend the event.
"The Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM) has informed SUHAKAM and the Prime Minister's Office without divulging details that there will be serious security risks arising out of tomorrow's events that border on national security," said Mr Razali.
DON'T SEE THE NEED FOR RALLY TO CONTINUE: MAHATHIR
In a statement on Friday evening, Dr Mahathir said he did not "see the need" for the anti-ICERD rally, considering the Malaysian government had already announced that it was no longer going to ratify ICERD.
"I don't see the need for the rally to continue, but several parties have said that they are continuing with their plans as a sign of appreciation for the decision made by the government," he said.
"On behalf of the government, if the rally is held on this basis, we thank you for the support ... We just ask for one thing - that organisers help police and other authorities in ensuring that there are no disturbances or damage to public property," he said.
"I pray that the rally takes place smoothly. Let us celebrate democracy in Malaysia."
MFA said Singaporeans heading to Kuala Lumpur are encouraged to register with the ministry at https://eregister.mfa.gov.sg.
It also advised Singaporeans to stay in touch with family and friends.
Those who need consular assistance may contact the Singapore High Commission in Kuala Lumpur or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs duty office at:
Singapore High Commission in Kuala Lumpur
209 Jalan Tun Razak
50400 Kuala Lumpur
Telephone: +60 321 616 277
Duty Officer Telephone: +60 166 610 400
Ministry of Foreign Affairs Duty Office (24-hours)
Tanglin, Singapore 248163
Telephone: +65 6379 8800 / 8855