Police disperse Bersih rally, 23 arrested (Update 3)

Sunday November 9, 2008 MYT 11:27:47 AM

PETALING JAYA: Police dispersed a crowd of about 200 people gathered at a field opposite the Amcorp Mall here on Sunday night to mark the first anniversary of the Bersih rally, arresting about two dozen people as well.
The rally was to commemorate the march last November that called for a free and fair general election.
Among those arrested were PJ Utara Member of Parliament Tony Pua, Kampung Tunku state assemblyman Lau Weng San, MBPJ counsellor Tiew Fei Chin and a videographer from the Malaysiakini news portal.
They were detained by plainclothes policemen in front of the Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) building about 2km from the Amcorp Mall, where the crowd was heading towards to hold a candlelight vigil.
Pua was seen being thrown into a police truck.
According to Bersih member Wong Chin Huat, they were singing the national anthem when they were detained.
Sporting t-shirts with slogans such as “Abolish the ISA” and “We’re with RPK,” the people were protesting the Internal Security Act (ISA). Among them was recently freed ISA detainee Raja Petra Raja Kamarudin (or RPK as he is fondly known), editor of the Malaysia Today portal.
Also present was lawyer and People’s Parliament blogger Harris Ibrahim, a committee member of Bersih, or The Coalition for Clean and Fair Election, who had earlier led the crowd with Pua.
Police had set up roadblocks earlier Sunday evening. The crowd had started gathering at about 8pm despite the presence of two trucks of light strike force policemen.
Police ushered the crowd to Amcorp Mall before warning them to disperse.
Haris said he considered the event a success because the people had managed to express themselves in protest against the ISA. He said that Bersih would keep organising a vigil every Sunday.
In the first Bersih rally last November, police used teargas and water cannons to disperse thousands of people who tried to march from Jalan Tun Perak to Dataran Merdeka.