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Saturday, July 9, 2011

Sulaiman Kamal | 8:26 PM | | | | | | Best Blogger Tips

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The eight-hour Bersih rally ended at the Petronas Twin Towers with organisers of the event claiming victory.

PETALING JAYA: The Bersih 2.0 rally ended today at the Kuala Lumpur City Centre here leaving a trail of destruction in various parts of the city.
The supporters of free and fair elections clashed with the anti-riot police leading to the arrest of 1,667 people while scores of others were reported injured.

Despite the arrests of top Bersih office-bearers as well as several well-known opposition politicians and injuries suffered by its supporters, the coalition for free and fair elections is thumping its chest hailing the event as a grand success.
The organisers claimed that some 50,000 people took part in the event while news reports have scaled down the figure to 30,000 participants and the police reducing the number further to a laughable 5,000.
The much-awaited day began slowly with the crowd trickling into various designated locations in the federal capital, with the focul point being the National Mosque for the march to Stadium Merdeka.
Although this group was dispersed by the police without much trouble, what they did not anticipate was that the crowd continued to swell despite the lock-down on the city, with roadblocks erected at all roads leading into Kuala Lumpur.
The sparks began to fly just after noon when the crowds at Menara Maybank became “uncontrollable”. Then the police moved in, firing tear gas at them and also using water cannons to douse them.
Police dragnet

The Bersih supporters ran to nearby roads like Jalan Pudu, but were cornered. They then fled to Tung Shin Maternity Hospital to escape the police dragnet.
They were, however, allowed to leave the hospital after several opposition leaders managed to talk to the police.
The supporters then regrouped at Jalan Sultan Ismail, where they were joined by another few thousands more people who had gathered from various locations in the city. They then proceeded to the KLCC, and after a few speeches they were once again asked to disperse.
When this fell on deaf ears, the police again fired tear gas canisters and also opened up their water cannons on the demonstrators.
The rally finally ended at about 5pm. The city was “reopened” half-an-hour later with the LRT and buses resuming their normal services.
A total of 12 political leaders were arrested. They are Mahfuz Omar, Salehuddin Ayub, Tian Chua, S Ambiga, Hadi Awang and Fuziah Salleh (all arrested at KL Sentral), Azeez Rahim, Mahfuz Mohammad, Khairy Jamaluddin, Ngeh Khor Ham and Sivarasah Rasiah (all arrested at Jalan Pudu) and Mohamad Sabu (Jalan Mahameru).
Apart from Bersih 2.0, Umno Youth had also organised a counter-rally at Bukit Bintang, which resulted in the arrest of Khairy.
No-show Perkasa

The police had over the past week warned organisers of rallies to get permits but none of those who applied managed to get one, due to “security concerns”.
Bersih initially wanted to hold the rally in the city but after an audience with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, it changed its mind and named Stadium Merdeka as its venue.
However, stadium authorities denied them permission to use the venue, saying that the historic site, which witnessed the declaration of the country’s independence in 1957, was undergoing renovations.
The organisers refused to change the venue and went ahead with the planned rally.
On another front, the Malay radical group Perkasa, which initailly announced that it would rally against Bersih, made an about-turn – its leader Ibrahim Ali and supporters failed to show up at Titiwangsa indoor stadium.

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