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Malaysian police warn against protests on budget day

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 23 (AFP) - Malaysian police have warned the public to stay away from a planned march from the National Mosque to parliament during presentation of the 1999 budget later Friday, reports said.

"We charged 128 people on Wednesday for illegal assembly and will not hesitate to do the same again," Kuala Lumpur deputy police commisioner Kamaruddin Ali was quoted as saying by The Star daily.

"No application for a permit was received and neither have we given our approval for the gathering," he said.

The 128 people were among 134 arrested last weekend for participating in what has become a weekly anti-government demonstration in support of detained former deputy premier Anwar Ibrahim.

Kamaruddin said the police were well-prepared for any untoward incident and warned that the use of children as "human shields" to discourage police from moving in would only land their parents in trouble.

The newspaper said that a group calling itself the Malaysian Reform Movement had urged concerned citizens to assemble outside parliament after weekly Friday prayers.

Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who is also finance minister, is scheduled to hand down the 1999 national budget at 4:00 p.m. (0800 GMT) in parliament, which is a short walk away from the National Mosque.

The Malay-language Utusan Malaysia cited Kamaruddin as warning that police would use the Internal Security Act (ISA), which provides for detention without trial, against rioters.

He said that stern action needed to be taken against street demonstrators who had become more aggressive.

The newspaper said there were Internet sites and leaflets distributed urging those who assemble at the parliament Friday to bring stones, slingshots and crude firebombs.

Apart from the parliament gathering, Utusan said supporters of Anwar were also planning to continue their weekly protest in a downtown area, urging people to bring "small towels, kerosene and bottles."

Mahathir sacked Anwar as deputy premier and finance minister on September 2. Police later arrested Anwar under the ISA, and subsequently charged him with corruption and sexual misconduct offences, all of which he denied. He has been denied bail.


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