This site uses cookies to improve your experience and to provide services and advertising. By continuing to browse, you agree to the use of cookies described in our Cookies Policy. You may change your settings at any time but this may impact on the functionality of the site. To learn more see our Cookies Policy.
OK
Dublin: 1 °C Monday 18 November, 2019
Advertisement

Photos: Tear gas used as 25,000 rally for reforms in Malaysia

The protest, one of the largest held in the country in the past decade, was held to demand an overhaul of biased electoral policies.

Protesters try to recover from tear gas fired by Malaysian police
Protesters try to recover from tear gas fired by Malaysian police
Image: AP Photo/Lai Seng Sin

MALAYSIAN POLICE HAVE fired tear gas and chemical-laced water  at thousands of demonstrators demanding an overhaul in electoral policies that they call biased ahead of national polls expected soon.

At least 25,000 demonstrators swamped Malaysia’s largest city today in one of the Southeast Asian nation’s biggest street rallies in the past decade.

The demonstration reflected concerns that Prime Minister Najib Razak’s ruling coalition — which has held power for more than 50 years — will have an unfair upper hand in elections that could be called as early as June.

Activists have alleged that the Election Commission is biased and claimed that voter registration lists are tainted with fraudulent voters.

Demonstrators wearing yellow T-shirts poured into downtown Kuala Lumpur, massing near a public square that police had sealed off with barbed wire and barricades.

“I’m here because I’m a Malaysian and I love my country,” said information technology manager Burrd Lim. “There’s no election that’s perfect, but I want one that’s fair enough.”

Authorities said an opposition-backed pressure group that organised the rally had no right to use Independence Square, a symbolically important venue that hosts parades and high-profile celebrations.

The demonstration remained peaceful for several hours, with participants singing the national anthem, waving banners and chanting slogans.

Organisers declared the event a success and asked people to head home. But just as some were walking away, a small group appeared to suddenly breach the police barriers, prompting authorities to fire tear gas and water laced with stinging chemicals at portions of the crowd.

Photos: Tear gas used as 25,000 rally for reforms in Malaysia
1 / 14
  • Malaysia Protest

    Source: AP Photo/Mark Baker
  • Malaysia Protest

    Source: AP Photo/Lai Seng Sin
  • Malaysia Protest

    Source: AP Photo/Lai Seng Sin
  • Malaysia Protest

    Source: AP Photo/Lai Seng Sin
  • Malaysia Protest

    Source: AP Photo/Mark Baker
  • Malaysia Protest

    Source: AP Photo/Mark Baker
  • Malaysia Protest

    Source: AP Photo/Lai Seng Sin
  • Malaysia Protest

    Source: AP Photo/Lai Seng Sin
  • Malaysia Protest

    Source: AP Photo/Lai Seng Sin
  • Malaysia Protest

    Source: AP Photo/Lai Seng Sin
  • Malaysia Protest

    Source: AP Photo/Lai Seng Sin
  • Malaysia Protest

    Source: AP Photo/Lai Seng Sin
  • Malaysia Protest

    Source: AP Photo/Lai Seng Sin
  • Malaysia Protest

    Source: AP Photo/Lai Seng Sin

Demonstrators fled into streets and stores nearby, but witnesses said baton-armed police backed by trucks continued firing tear gas at some of them for at least half an hour before much of the crowd was dispersed. Authorities were seen detaining at least 20 people.

Federal police spokesman Rasdi Ramli estimated there were about 25,000 demonstrators, but many witnesses and some Malaysian news organisations said there were far more. Independent news website Malaysiakini said there was 100,000, while The Sun newspaper estimated 80,000.

The rally’s organisers also want longer election campaigning periods and changes to ensure citizens living abroad can cast ballots, as well as international observers for the polls and fairer access for all political parties to the government-linked media.

Government officials and electoral authorities insist the activists’ concerns are overblown.

“We accept that there are issues,” Foreign Minister Anifah Aman said late Friday. “We have worked very hard to address them, introducing a raft of reforms to ensure that our country’s next election is the freest and fairest ever.”

  • Share on Facebook
  • Email this article
  •  

About the author:

Associated Press

Read next:

COMMENTS (2)