Thousand of Malaysians resists government warnings by marching for electoral reforms on Saturday, while police fired tear gas and detained more than 1,600 people in the country’s major political rally in 4 years.
The opposition backed rally was the conclusion of weeks of extreme pressure on PM Najib Razak’s long-ruling alliance to make election laws fairer and more transparent before national polls expected in 2012.
Opposition leaders blame Najib’s ruling United Malays National Organization (UMNO) of relying on fraud to uphold its 54-year holds on power. And the government insists the present electoral policies are fair.
The government had affirmed the rally illegal. Police sealed off main roads, deployed water cannons and after that opened fire with tear gas as crowds formed and attempted to march towards the iconic Merdeka Stadium from across Kuala Lumpur, where independence was declared over half a century ago.
A similar protest called by the Bersih coalition in 2007 was broken up by police via water cannon and tear gas, according to the reports.