Home | Friday 15th July 2011 | Issue 779
LIKE IT OR LUMPUR IT
We had the Arab spring – what about one in South East Asia? Not if the Malaysian government has anything to do with it. On July 9th, the ‘elected’ dictatorship stamped aggressively on a peaceful mass demo in capital, Kuala Lumpur, organised by a leftish collective group called BERSIH (Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections). And with the same ‘National Front’ party having been in power since independence in 1957 they’ve surely got a point.
But the city was swiftly in full-on Police State mode as 7,000 cops with helicopter support attempted to lock down the centre, blocking public transport and access routes. They attacked peaceful marchers (estimated at more than 20,000 by participants and only 6,000 by cops) with major tear gas assaults, also making mass arrests (around 1,500) and undertaking arbitrary searches of buildings and hotels looking for march supporters. All the left leaning politicians and organisation leaders had already been arrested before the demo began but the majority of marchers managed to organise themselves and rally round to protect each other from the worst of the police onslaught.
This isn’t the first time people have taken to the streets in Kualar Lumpur – there were two big demos in 2007 that the state responded to in a similar fashion and the regime continues to send its people a stern message: Freedom? Don’t even think about it, you must thing we were Borneo yesterday...
* For more see www.bersih.org