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Anwar Ibrahim

Posted: 13 Jan 2013 07:28 PM PST

Anwar Ibrahim


Malaysians gather in tens of thousands demanding political reforms (PHOTOS)

Posted: 13 Jan 2013 09:14 AM PST

RT.COM

Tens of thousands Malaysians have come out to protest in the country's capital against the government calling for reforms and possible ouster of the ruling coalition. The rally comes before Malaysia's general elections, which are due by mid-2013.

According to local police, 80,000 people marched through Kuala Lumpur to the legendary Stadium Merdeka, where the current governing alliance declared independence from Britain in 1957, reported The Malaysian Insider.

Opposition estimates that the turnout was even higher, at about 100,000, according to Malaysia Kini.

Protesters' demands included better electoral and environmental laws, improved education system, abolition of student loans and fair royalty payments to oil-producing states.

The opposition argues that the country's electoral register is fraudulent and has pro-government bias.

A protestor waves flag during a grand gathering at the historical Medeka Stadium (Independence Stadium) during a rally for electorial reforms in Kuala Lumpur.(AFP Photo / Saeed Khan)
A protestor waves flag during a grand gathering at the historical Medeka Stadium (Independence Stadium) during a rally for electorial reforms in Kuala Lumpur.(AFP Photo / Saeed Khan)

During the rally people wore various bright colors including yellow and green, each representing an activist group.

The rally resembled a festival with food sellers and other vendors coming out to the streets. People carried flags and signs and some even wore Guy Fawkes masks, as popularized by the 2005 film V for Vendetta.

A protestor wearing a Guy Fawkes mask waves a Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) flag inside the historical Stadium Merdeka (Independence Stadium) as he takes part in an opposition rally ahead of looming elections in Kuala Lumpur.(AFP Photo / Mohd Rasfan)
A protestor wearing a Guy Fawkes mask waves a Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) flag inside the historical Stadium Merdeka (Independence Stadium) as he takes part in an opposition rally ahead of looming elections in Kuala Lumpur.(AFP Photo / Mohd Rasfan)

Opposition leader Lim Guan Eng spoke at the protest urging for change from the country's Prime Minister Najib Razak’s and his Barisan Nasional coalition, which has held power for the past 55 years.

The ruling coalition has been in control of Malaysia since independence from Britain.

"Our government is so corrupt. The government should listen to us. They need to reform. For more than 50 years they have ruled Malaysia," rally participant Azlan Abu Bakar told News24.

Malaysia opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim (C) shouts alogans during a grand gathering at the historical Medeka Stadium during a rally for electorial reforms in Kuala Lumpur.(AFP Photo / Saeed Khan)
Malaysia opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim (C) shouts alogans during a grand gathering at the historical Medeka Stadium during a rally for electorial reforms in Kuala Lumpur.(AFP Photo / Saeed Khan)

Malaysia's national poet A. Samad Said read out some of his work to a cheering crowd.

"Even poems have become weapons,"  he said. "I am already 80, I have always dreamed of witnessing a sea of souls. This is it, change now."

Access to the stadium was granted by local authorities and the rally was peaceful, police reported.

Protestors march towards the historical Merdeka Stadium (Independence Stadium) during a rally for electorial reforms in Kuala Lumpur.(AFP Photo / Saeed Khan)
Protestors march towards the historical Merdeka Stadium (Independence Stadium) during a rally for electorial reforms in Kuala Lumpur.(AFP Photo / Saeed Khan)

This stands in stark contrast to the previous demonstration held in April 2012 when at least 1,000 people were injured and hundreds detained after police Malaysian police fired teargas and chemical-laced water at 25,000 protesters gathered calling for electoral reforms.

The ruling government's term is due to expire in April with elections to be held by mid-2013.

PM Razak’s bloc faces a new opposition force comprised of Anwar Ibrahim's multi-ethnic party, the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party and Malaysian Chinese Association, party dominated by ethnic Chinese.

The ruling block has also been experiencing waning support. It lost more than a third of its seats in parliament to the opposition in 2008, as the charges of corruption grew.

Protestors climb for high angle view outside the historical Stadium Merdeka (Independence Stadium) as they take part in an opposition rally ahead of looming elections in Kuala Lumpur.(AFP Photo / Mohd Rasfan)
Protestors climb for high angle view outside the historical Stadium Merdeka (Independence Stadium) as they take part in an opposition rally ahead of looming elections in Kuala Lumpur.(AFP Photo / Mohd Rasfan)
Protestors march towards the historical Merdeka Stadium (Independence Stadium) during a rally for electorial reforms in Kuala Lumpur.(AFP Photo / Saeed Khan)
Protestors march towards the historical Merdeka Stadium (Independence Stadium) during a rally for electorial reforms in Kuala Lumpur.(AFP Photo / Saeed Khan)

Malaysian Opposition Rally Draws Huge Crowd

Posted: 13 Jan 2013 09:10 AM PST

The West.Com

Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim urged voters to oust the country’s long-ruling government as tens of thousands of supporters gathered Saturday in a show of force ahead of coming elections.

At least 50,000 people crowded into an iconic stadium in the capital Kuala Lumpur where independence was declared in 1957 and tens of thousands more thronged surrounding areas as the opposition effectively kicked off its campaign.

“We plead for you to give us a chance so that the people’s voices will become the voices of the leaders of this nation,” Anwar told the crowds as he denounced what he called the government’s misrule and corruption.

“The time has come to bury the unfairness of this government,” he declared.

The Barisan Nasional coalition has controlled Malaysia since independence from Britain and was never seriously threatened until Anwar’s opposition alliance handed the ruling bloc its worst election showing ever in 2008.

Premier Najib Razak must face elections no later than June in a contest that is shaping up as the nation’s most intriguing yet, with the opposition seeking to harness the winds of change that powered the “Arab Spring” in the Middle East.

There was no hint Saturday of the violence that marred the country’s last major anti-government rally in April.

That rally, for reform of an election system that the opposition and other critics say is skewed in the government’s favour, drew tens of thousands to the streets but degenerated into clashes between demonstrators and police.

Authorities were criticised for a response widely seen as heavy-handed.

Critics say the electoral system is rife with voter-roll fraud and other pro-government bias, and complain the government has not followed through on a pledge to address alleged unfairness in time for the polls.

The government denies the system is biased.

“If you cheat in this election, the people will rise to overthrow you,” Anwar warned in comments directed at the country’s Election Commission, which is widely seen as pro-government.

Anwar was deputy premier until his sensational ouster in 1998 amid a row with with strongman ruler Mahathir Mohamad, and was convicted on sodomy and corruption charges widely viewed as a political fix-up.

His casting out has invigorated a once-ineffectual opposition.

He now heads a tripartite alliance of his own multi-ethnic party, an influential Islamic party, and a third party dominated by ethnic Chinese.

Muslim Malays make up more 60 percent of Malaysia’s 28 million people.

The government derides the opposition as a marriage of convenience incapable of governing, saying Malaysia needs Barisan Nasional’s steady hand. It also touts efforts by Najib to spark the economy and reform oppressive laws.

Under Barisan Nasional, Malaysia became one of Southeast Asia’s economic success stories and enjoyed decades of political stability, while facing recurring allegations of corruption and rights abuses.

The opposition accuses the scandal-prone government of massive graft, thuggish rule, and racial fear-mongering in the multi-ethnic nation in order to stay in power. It also says the economy is also losing its competitive edge against regional rivals.

“Our government is so corrupt. The government should listen to us. They need to reform,” said rally participant Azlan Abu Bakar, 29, who travelled from the eastern state of Terengganu for the gathering.

Thousands Attend Malaysia’s Opposition Rally

Posted: 13 Jan 2013 09:08 AM PST

Wall Street Journal

Malaysia’s opposition held its first big rally Saturday in a show of strength ahead of the general elections, which are being tipped as the most closely contested in a country that has been ruled by the Barisan Nasional-led coalition party since independence in 1957.

Thousands of people flocked to Kuala Lumpur’s historic Merdeka Stadium, seeking reforms in an electoral system they say is biased toward the ruling coalition government.

General elections must be held by June 27 and analysts widely believe the ruling coalition will retain power, although with fewer seats in parliament. Anwar Ibrahim led the opposition to its best performance in years in 2008, capturing a record 82 of 222 seats in parliament, leaving the ruling front short of a two-thirds majority for the first time. It also won five of Malaysia’s 13 states. Since then, the opposition has inched up to 86 seats in parliament but lost control of one state.

“No one should steal our votes. We shall work to defend our votes and will not allow anyone to mock our votes,” said Mr. Anwar, who heads a diverse opposition coalition of three parties, while addressing a sea of supporters in yellow and green T-shirts.

The Elections Commission is constantly scrutinizing the electoral roll to ensure it is as accurate as possible, the government said in a statement late Saturday. “Malaysia’s electoral system is stronger than ever,” it added.

The peaceful rally, which the police say was attended by about 45,000 while the opposition put the number at 100,000, was in stark contrast to the April 2012 anti-government demonstration that was marred by violent clashes between the police and the protesters.

The peaceful gathering underlined Prime Minister Najib Razak’s commitment to freedom of assembly and reflects the strength of Malaysia’s democracy, the government added in the statement.

“The message here is that people want change, they are fed up with the corruption and cheating in the elections,” Mr. Anwar told The Wall Street Journal after the rally.

“We want a better life in Malaysia. We want clean elections,” said Emir Fadzly, who attended the rally with three friends from the northern state of Kedah.

His voice adds to the growing clamor for greater transparency and a more open society promised by the charismatic Mr. Anwar, who is taking a last shot at the premiership. The 64-year-old Mr. Anwar has said he will retire if the opposition coalition—which consists of the Islamist PAS party; Mr. Anwar’s moderate People’s Justice Party, which has wide appeal among urban youth; and the Chinese-majority Democratic Action Party—fails to form the next government.

“God willing, we hope this massive crowd will sway the fence sitters,” Khalid Samad, a leader of the PAS party said.

The ruling National Front coalition has portrayed the opposition coalition as an unnatural alliance of Islamic fundamentalists and multi-ethnic and liberal parties that would fall apart if it won power.

Race forms the core of politics in Muslim-majority Malaysia, where ethnic Malays make up about 60% of the 28.5 million population and are given preferences in jobs, university placements and businesses. Prime Minister Najib Razak’s United Malays National Organization says such quotas have helped to create a more stable society, but main political strands are divided over whether they have outlived their usefulness or are still needed to cap racial and religious tensions, which flared in 2010 with arson against Christian churches.

Politweet says 150k at rally but assumes Stadium only houses 30k, meeting pts not included

Posted: 13 Jan 2013 09:06 AM PST

Malaysia Chronicle

The crowd at the HRK#KL112 rally held on Saturday could have reached up to 150,000 people, according to preliminary estimates by think-tank Politweet.

However, the estimate does not take into account the crowds at all the 8 meeting points arranged by organizers. Many participants had gathered at those spots and marched with great determination to the Stadium Merdeka where the main event was held, but were turned away by the police.

Politweet’s estimate also assumes that the capacity of the Stadium itself was a “reported 30,000″. However, seasoned users of the Stadium will vouch that it can squeeze in at least 80,000 to 100,000.

The think-tank also did not mention in its statement published on Facebook whether its estimate was at ‘peak’ or ‘non-peak’ time.

Way higher than the Malaysian media

Even so, Politweet’s calculation is still way higher than the highest estimate from the government-controlled Malaysian media. These have been accused of bowing to government pressure to under-report the crowd size. The smallest estimate was 30,000 and the largest was 100,000.

Police initially estimated a crowd of 80,000 but later scaled this back to 45,000. The rally organizers have put the total crowd size at 500,000.

Malaysia Chronicle estimated the total number of rally goers was more than the Bersih 3.0 rally for free and fair polls held last year, where 250,000 Malaysians attended a sit-in rally in the vicinity of the Dataran Merdeka.

Revisions to come soon

Below is the Politweet statement published verbatim (https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151338418832486&set=a.10151337014227486.501505.150884017485&type=1&ref=nf).

“Area covered by the crowd that attended the rally (not including stadium seating), based on photos in the media and shared online. Shaded area covers 424149.14 sq.ft.

Crowd density varies, but if you take an average of 3.5-4 sq.ft. per person, the total is 106037 – 121185 people outside the stadium.

Including the 30K reported capacity of the stadium, the estimated size of the crowd is: 136037 – 151185 people.

Each area will be evaluated separately to determine a more accurate crowd density. Please expect this figure to be revised later this week.”

Politweet is a research firm that analyses Twitter usage. Among recent findings, it detected an effort by Prime Minister Najib Razak’s office to cheat in setting a tweeting record during the Merdeka celebrations last year.

[VIDEO] Ucapan Penuh Dato Seri Anwar Ibrahim Di Himpunan Kebangkitan Rakyat #KL112

Posted: 13 Jan 2013 01:34 AM PST

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