10 November, 2007

Tear gas fired at Malaysia rally

Tear gas fired at Malaysia rally
Malaysian police have fired tear gas and water cannon to disperse hundreds of activists at an opposition-backed rally in the capital Kuala Lumpur.
The rally on Saturday was organised by activists demanding changes to the electoral system ahead of general elections expected early next year.
Thousands of demonstrators in the city centre were stopped by a police cordon as they tried to march to the Merdeka [Independence] Square, the planned location of the rally.

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Roadblocks and barricades were placed around the city on Saturday. A permit for the rally was refused by police.

"We will not hesitate to take action against those who defied our orders," Zul Hasnan Najib, Kuala Lumpur's police chief, said on Saturday.

Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, the prime minister, said on Friday that the government would not tolerate street demonstrations.

"They are challenging the patience of the people who want the country to be peaceful and stable. That is what they are challenging, not me," he said at his ruling party meeting.

The protesters, organised by Bersih (Clean), a loose coalition of 26 opposition parties and non-governmental organisations, have said they would hold the rally despite the police ban.

Opposition figure Anwar Ibrahim, who was jailed for participation in the 1998 protest, was expected to lead the rally.

The opposition says that the electoral process disproportionately favours Abdullah's ruling coalition.
(Source: Al Jazeera and agencies)

Malaysia police turn water cannon on protesters
By Sayed Salahuddin, Reuter

Excerpt :

"Hundreds of policemen, including riot police with shields and batons, guarded Kuala Lumpur's landmark Merdeka (Freedom) Square, where tens of thousands of people had planned to gather in one of Malaysia's biggest anti-government rallies since 1998.

"Police sprayed water cannons twice to disperse a crowd of about 500 protesters chanting slogans," said a Reuters witness who watched the incident outside a mosque guarded by about 50 riot police, while helicopters hovered overhead."

"Nearby, another group of around 500 protesters, chiefly teenagers wearing yellow T-shirts emblazoned with the slogan "Bersih", or "Clean" in Malay, marched in heavy rain towards the city's colonial-era railway station.

They chanted "Allahu akbar" (God is greatest) and "Reformasi", a reform demand that was the war chant of 1998 opposition protests, while waving banners reading "Save Malaysia" and "Election Commission, stop your tricks"."

"Opposition figure Anwar Ibrahim said he was happy with the turnout, despite the government's condemnation of the protest.

"It is a good signal that Malaysians want freedom and democracy and want free and fair elections," the former deputy prime minister told reporters.

"Now we have no option but to appeal to his majesty," Anwar said after he and several opposition colleagues, including Hadi Awang of the hardline Islamist Parti Islam-se Malaysia and Lim Kit Siang of the Democratic Action Party, submitted their list."

"Police detained about a dozen protesters and effectively shut down the city centre, using barricades on main roads to halt cars and turn away protesters, witnesses said.

"We will not hesitate to take action against those who defied our orders," state news agency Bernama quoted city police chief Zul Hasnan Najib as saying before the demonstration began.

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said on Friday the government would not tolerate street protests. "They are challenging the patience of the people who want the country to be peaceful and stable," he said."

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Blogger J.T. said...

Thanks for the update, Linken. Appreciate it very much.

November 11, 2007 10:13 AM  
Blogger Linken Lim said...

Hi j.t.

Although I couldn't be there to support, but spiritually I was there !

November 11, 2007 2:25 PM  

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