BY ALL accounts, it was a rough weekend in Kuala Lumpur. A rally on July 9th demanding electoral reform for Malaysia turned nasty, ending in the arrest of more than 1,600 people. The police fired tear gas and water canon into the crowd, and one man died of a heart attack. All those arrested were released fairly quickly, but Amnesty International, a human-rights group based in London, called it “the worst campaign of repression we’ve seen in the country for years.” Perhaps sensing things had gone too far, the home minister today called for an investigation into charges of police brutality. Certainly, in its harsh reaction to what its organisers described as a peaceful protest march, the government demonstrated a great deal of anxiety about how much opposition can be tolerated at all in Malaysia today.
In fact, the crackdown against the protest had begun long before Saturday, ever since “Bersih 2.0” announced that it was going to stage the rally in the first place. Bersih, or the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections, is a coalition of NGOs and activist groups that advocates changes in the elections laws, such as giving more equitable air time to all the different candidates and doing more to curb fraud. All very laudable, one would have thought, but the government plainly took fright. Bersih itself was declared an illegal organisation on July 1st, and about 200 activists were rounded up by the police. The march was declared illegal and an offer to give the movement a stadium for its meeting was quickly withdrawn.
For full story Here http://www.economist.com/blogs/banyan/2011/07/political-demonstration-malaysia