July 8, 2011 – 5:22 am


Rally crowd…

Police fire tear gas in Kuala Lumpur, around 12.45 pm, July 9, 2011.

Click here: Malaysia Police Fire Tear Gas and Arrest Hundreds of Protesters
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Click here: Cops Fire Tear Gas At Ambiga, Anwar
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Click here: 236 Held As KL Lock-down Goes Into Full Swing
Click here: KL Holds Its Breath As Bersih Rally Looms
Click here: Government Cannot Stop Us, Says Bersih
Click here: Kuala Lumpur Under Siege!
Click here: PAS Lawyers Ready To Defend Rally Participants
Click here: Law Experts Say King Acted Constitutionally Over Bersih
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Click here: Tian Chua: Bersih Rally Will Go On
Click here: Ambiga, Ibrahim Ali, Khairy among 91 locked-out from KL this Saturday

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Malaysia’s Yang Di-Pertuan Agong (King) has intervened in a rift between a group demanding free and fair elections and the ruling party. The Agong has called on both sides to negotiate after a standoff when Bersih, the group for free and fair elections, called for a mass rally in the streets of Malaysia’s capital and throughout the nation July 9. The rally on Saturday July 9 will now be held at Stadium Merdeka in Kuala Lumpur at 2 pm despite the government’s refusal to issue a permit.

The members of the BERSIH 2.0 Steering Committee are:
Dato’ Ambiga Sreenevasan (Chair), Andrew Khoo, Arul Prakkash, Arumugam K., Dr Farouk Musa, Haris Ibrahim, Liau Kok Fah, Maria Chin Abdullah, Richard Y W Yeoh, Dr Subramaniam Pillay, Dato’ Dr Toh Kin Woon, Dr Wong Chin Huat, Dato’ Yeo Yang Poh dan Zaid Kamaruddin.

The rally - meant to be a citizens’ march for democracy, culminating with the delivery of a memorandum to the King - had been deemed illegal by the Malaysian government. For the past week, the ruling Umno alliance has been ordering the arrests of supporters of Bersih. On June 29, the police raided Bersih’s secretariat and arrested seven staff members. About 200 people have been arrested since June 24 for Bersih-related activities, including distributing leaflets.

It was even illegal to wear the Bersih T-shirts Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said: “If the Bersih T-shirt is related to an illegal activity, then whatever they are wearing is illegal.” The head of Bersih, Ambiga Sreenevasan, has received death threats.

The intense crackdown on Bersih’s second major rally took a twist on July 3 after the Agong (King) called on all quarters to engage in negotiations. This followed an earlier statement by deputy inspector general Khalid Abu Bakar declaring that all doors to negotiation had been “closed”.

On July 5, Ambiga told reporters after an audience with the King: “We accept the government’s offer to hold the demonstration in a stadium. We will not hold it in the streets.” Meanwhile, Prime Minister Najib Razak has agreed to meet Bersih over rally venue.

Though not an opposition initiative, the Bersih grouping is made up of several opposition parties and 62 NGOs. Bersih wants eight demands met, including putting an end to misuse of government machinery during elections:

- Automatic voter registration
- Reforms to postal voting
- Use of indelible ink
- Access to the mainstream media for opposition parties
- A minimum campaign period of 21 days
- Independence of institutions
- An end to electoral graft

The Bersih 2.0 rally, with the theme ‘Walk For Democracy’, is organised by the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih, meaning “clean” in Malay).

Apart from the rally in Kuala Lumpur, Bersih has also lined up rallies in various cities around the world:

Date: 9 July 2011 Time: 3 pm Venue: Malaysian High Commission, 4-1 Hannam-dong, 140-210, Seoul
Date: 9 July 2011 Time: Noon Venue: Malaysian Consulate in Canberra, Melbourne and Sydney (simultaneous)
Date: 9 July 2011 Time: 3.00 pm Venue: Tower of the Sun, Osaka
Date: 9 July 2011 Time: 10.00 am Venue: Consulate General of Malaysia, 550 South Hope Street, Suite 400, Los Angeles
Date: 9 July 2011 Time: 9.30 am Venue: Chrissy Field Picnic Area, Presidio, San Francisco
Date: 9 July 2011 Time: 10.00 am Venue: Consulate General of Malaysia, 313 East 43rd Street, New York

In Malaysia, the King although above politics is still a respected figure.

- Sourced from Malaysia Today, Harakah Daily, the wikipedia and internet postings.

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