Malaysia oppn activists agree to rally in stadium
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Last Updated: Tuesday, July 05, 2011, 20:15
  
Kuala Lumpur: Malaysian opposition-backed activists on Tuesday agreed to move their planned rally, demanding electoral reforms, to a stadium after the government said it would be illegal to hold such demonstrations on the streets.

The decision by prominent lawyer Ambiga Sreenevasan, who is also head of NGO Bersin 2.0, to hold this weekend's rally in a stadium has settled tension across the country with the police warning that the rally would be held illegal and Home Minister seeking tough action against the participants.

Protest organisers met constitutional monarch Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin today and announced they had accepted the government's proposal for the rally to be held in a stadium.

Prime Minister Najib Razak had said that the authorities were against a street rally but had no opposition if they organise it in a stadium.

The king too had said in a statement that street demonstrations "bring more bad than good."

Holding of a gathering of more than five persons is illegal in Malaysia and a special permission has to acquired from the police before any meeting is held. Several people planning to join the street rally have been arrested in the last few days.

The rally was called to demand an overhaul of electoral laws to ensure transparency in national elections widely expected by mid-2012. The government has maintained that the electoral laws are fair.

Malaysia saw its biggest ever rally in 2007 when more than 20,000 ethnic Indians gathered in central Kuala Lumpur to protest against alleged marginalisation of the minority community.

The rally, declared illegal, was organised by the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) which was later outlawed and its main leaders were arrested under the internal security act which allows the government to hold a person without trial for a long period of time. The chief of Hindraf fled from the country and is on a self-imposed exile reportedly in London.

PTI


First Published: Tuesday, July 05, 2011, 20:15


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