Malaysia oppn activists agree to rally in stadium
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
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.