Malaysian police break up electoral reform protest

Channelnews asia – 17 Nov 2007

KUALA LUMPUR: Police disrupted a street protest by confiscating balloons and leaflets after activists launched a campaign to urge Malaysians to wear yellow every Saturday to demand electoral reform.
At least 10 members of a group were distributing the materials to the public at a busy train station in the capital Kuala Lumpur when police moved in.
Ronnie Lui, from the opposition Democratic Action Party (DAP), described the police action as a form of “intimidation and harassment.”
“I will say our street protest to promote a campaign to wear something yellow every Saturday was a success despite the police action. We manage to distribute the yellow balloons and ribbons before they stopped us.”
“They also had threatened to arrest us,” he added.
A protest last Saturday demanding electoral reform drew 30,000 people despite rain and a police ban. The rally was suppressed by police with water cannons and tear gas.
But protesters managed to hand a memorandum to Malaysia’s king, who is highly respected but has a largely ceremonial role and usually stays out of politics.
The protest movement, a coalition of opposition parties and civil society groups called “Bersih” in the Malay language or “Clean”, is pushing for reforms including a clean-up of the electoral roll and an end to postal votes.
Ronnie said “Bersih” picked yellow to represent people power, freedom and justice.
Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is expected to call snap polls in the next few months. – AFP/ac