Saturday, July 9, 2011

Street demonstrations in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 9th July 2011

Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia turned into mayhem and chaos today 9th July 2011 after thousands of people marched onto the streets, to demand for electoral reforms.

The organiser of this mammoth rally, Bersih 2.0 promised a smooth and peaceful rally, but in the end, it turned into chaos when the police used water cannon and tear gas to disperse the crowd who assembled illegaly.

As a result, the Malaysian police force battled with polls reform coalition Bersih (with yellow as their official colour) and the anti Bersih 2.0 > UMNO Youth who called themselves Patriot and dressed in Red in the streets of Kuala Lumpur.

Umno Youth, which is rallying to defend the electoral system, congregated in Bukit Bintang at 1.30pm. This was a last-minute change from the earlier announced time of 10am.

Bersih has vowed to gather at the Stadium Merdeka and in various parts of Kuala Lumpur at 2pm to call for wide-ranging reforms to the electoral system which it claims to be unfree and unfair.

Despite roadblocks at key junctions and roads in Kuala Lumpur, traffic is smooth from the low number of vehicles, but traffic is gridlocked at the outskirts as police weed out possible protestors.

The majority of the police are stationed at the favourite haunts for protestors - Dataran Merdeka, the Masjid Jamek area, Bukit Bintang, Stadium Merdeka, Masjid Negara, Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, KLCC and the Sogo shopping centre.

Vehicles entering Kuala Lumpur were being vigorously inspected. There is also heavy police presence at every nook and corner of Kuala Lumpur.

As of 8.30am, Light Rail Train services are operating as usual, without any stations inaccessible but closed around 3 pm due to the escalating tense situations.

The weather forecast for Kuala Lumpur is a mix of cloud and sun with the possibility of showers or thunderstorms and rain it did. Heavy rains pounded Kuala Lumpur in the afternoon, forcing demonstrators to run helter skelter for cover.

Umno-owned Utusan Malaysia kicked off the day with a screaming front-page headline in bold red 'Curfew in KL today?', followed by 'There are people planning to open fire and blame the police for it'.

In the end, police said a total of 1,667 people had been detained in the Bersih rally, around Kuala Lumpur.

They included 1,500 men, 151 women and 16 children who had accompanied them.

Kuala Lumpur Criminal Investigations Department chief Datuk Ku Chin Wah said all the detainees were expected to be released by 9.30pm Saturday, 9th July 2011.

Political leaders from both the ruling government and oppossition as well as prominent figures were among those arrested.

They include Bersih 2.0 chairperson Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan, along with Parti Keadilan Rakyat, PKR deputy president Azmin Ali, Subang Member of Parliament from PKR Sivarasa Rasiah and Batu Member of Parliament Tian Chua.

PAS leaders who were detained included president Datuk Seri Hadi Awang, Kuantan MP Fuziah Salleh, PAS deputy president Mohamad Sabu and vice presidents Datuk Mahfuz Omar and Salahuddin Ayub.

Malay rights group Perkasa chief Datuk Ibrahim Ali said they did not take hold a rally as planned earlier in the week to counter the Bersih rally as they did not have a permit.

Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin and Putera UMNO leader Datuk Azeez Abdul Rahim led a group of Patriot supporters to also counter the Bersih rally but both were also arrested by police and taken to the Police Training

Let's pray for Malaysia.

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