50,000 Malaysians defy ban to demand electoral reforms


Bersih rally 10 Nov 2007

Sea of yellow: They came in their thousands to get their point across – Photo credit: Seng Keat Tan

So the chief of police puts the turnout at 4,000 in a report tucked away on page 8 of The Star. Interesting! But then he was probably referring to the crowd at Masjid Jamek alone, where police fired water cannons, dousing the protesters with chemically laced liquid. The way The Star reported it made it sound as if 4,000 was the total turnout, although it did add later that “thousands” had turned up at various spots.

If it was really 4,000, why did they need two (or was it three) helicopters to monitor the crowd?

My estimate of the total turnout – and that was the rough consensus among those at the scene at various points – was 50,000.

Still, the actual turnout is beside the point. The real story was the fact that tens of thousands of Malaysians had come out – despite repeated warnings and threats of arrest – to defy a ban and put across their demand for electoral reforms, loudly and clearly.

I was proud to be a Malaysian among the good natured and peaceful crowd that afternoon.

As for the mainstream media coverage, it was pathetic. I woke up this morning expecting it to be front page news. After all, news of the protest gathering had flashed across the globe yesterday. But when I saw the front page of The Sunday Star today… zilch, nada, nothing…. Was this for real? It seemed as if I must have been on a different planet. It was only reported half-heartedly on page 8. Tens of thousands of people had brought Kuala Lumpur to a virtual standstill the day before and… Page 8! Disgusting coverage. But then again, what else can we expect from our castrated mainstream media?

Meanwhile, check out Aliran president P Ramakrishnan’s statement here.

RIGHTS-MALAYSIA: Rally Defies Police Ban to Demand Poll Reforms
By Anil Netto

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 10 (IPS) – Tens of thousands of people defied riot police, water cannon and pouring rain to march through the capital city, on Saturday, to demand electoral and other reforms and deliver a strong rebuff to Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi.

On Friday Badawi had issued a stern warning that he would brook no challenge to his rule and officials said anybody around Dataran Merdeka (Independence Square), the planned venue of the protest gathering, would be arrested.

That made the turnout of over 50,000 people, sloshing through muddy grass verges by the highway, all the more impressive as they engaged in a cat-and-mouse game with police armed with water cannons and batons.

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2 Aug 2009 8.25pm

The ISA is a political tool of Umno/Bn to silence opposition and a tool to great wealth for those in power using MACC & Police to maintain power.
They can stop the messanger BUT they cannot STOP the message.

Samuel Goh
Samuel Goh
16 Nov 2007 10.18am

Back to basic 3R – Let Us Count

There are lies, more lies and statistics
Usual antics of those out to cheat in biased politics
Figures that will melt under heat like cheap plastic
What more with rubber numbers can be made so elastic

(C) Samuel Goh Kim Eng
Fri. 16th Nov. 2007.

13 Nov 2007 4.58pm

Thank you for a very comprehensive coverage of the rally. Looking forward to your piece in the Herald. It is people like you who make me feel good to be a Malaysian in spite of everything negative that is happening around us. God belss

13 Nov 2007 11.14am

The PM is literally still sleeping and dreaming. His first agenda after he took over was to eradicate corruption. The only minister removed was poor Isa Samad. Even that we know now it was apparently only because of Khairy agenda. Everybody else charged was found innocent. Unbelieveable. Abdullah should do the honorable and step down.

Warnings by CPO and Menteri Besar for the planned gathering at Batu Buruk tonite. To the organisers, ensure thorough planning and do not overstretch your resources. Wish you all the same success.

12 Nov 2007 7.47pm

It is sad that whenever UMNO organises protest marches, or demonstrations, it is always approved by the police. Nay, not even approvals are required. Some UMNO members have even turned violent, and all the police do is just stand around and do nothing. But when opposition members or members of NGO’s apply for approval to demonstrate or hold rallies, the police will inevitably turn down such applications. When, oh when, will the rakyat wake up and fight for their rights? UMNO has stated that there is no necessity to demonstrate as elections are held every 5 years and people can… Read more »

12 Nov 2007 8.53pm

Damn!! it takes 6 hours to moderate my comments.. Anil, if you have a blog on.. maintain it!!

12 Nov 2007 10.11pm

Just cannot beleive non of the main stream newspapers reported the Bersih Rally. Its shameful of the Star reporting only 4000 citizen took part. Shameful,shameful,shameful. What freedom of press do we have???
I salute the all the participants of the Bersih Rally on 10/11. Its a day to remember in the annals of our nation.
Long live the King. Long live malaysia.

13 Nov 2007 1.12am

Well…cyberrado, fools do not know how to pretend. Don’t label them such. We don’t want to spoil the sanctity of the word ‘stupid’. Theirs is a condition beyond repair.

Joshua Y.C. Kong sabah
12 Nov 2007 10.42pm

should expect the next one at 500,000 nationwide…

13 Nov 2007 7.57am

Hi Dave and Pat, I set up the blog a few months ago. Thanks for dropping by! As for Indianputra, much as I would like to moderate comments instantly, I am afraid my work schedule does not allow me to sit in front of the computer all day, waiting to moderate comments.

Eye on Penang
Eye on Penang
11 Nov 2007 10.53am

Saturday, 10 November 2007 What a wonderful day for democracy, freedom and the rights of the people it was. The people have bravely and defiantly expressed their disgust regarding the the pseudo democracy in Malaysia. Manipulation of elections must stop! The BN charade has gone on far too long; so the voters need to turn out in force and give all component parties a hard slap in the face, by not voting for them. The winds of change are now blowing even stronger. The turn out of over 50,000 yesterday was wonderful. Websites were hacked (most likely by UMNO), the… Read more »

12 Nov 2007 12.14pm

The problem with the PM and almost all the government politicians is if the rakyat are not happy over any issues related to the government, the rakyat can exercise their option in the next general election. What a stupid response. The ruling party can do anything the next 5 years. Then the election is always rigged. Legal campaigning is only for the BN. When many times the grouses of the rakyat is only asking a change for the better, not asking change of government! The number of issues are increasing, while the responses from ministers like Nazri and Zam make… Read more »

C Devendran
C Devendran
12 Nov 2007 11.45am

Dear Mr Anil,

Good to see that you have your own website. When did you set it up?

Thanks & Regards,

Dave & Pat

12 Nov 2007 3.25pm

I have been trying to make my comments the last few days but was unable. Today, I am successful. The event on the 10th. November is OVER and we need not gloat over it anymore. We were successful and that’s it. Now, let’s move forward. HOLD ANOTHER RALLY – with the theme – ERADICATE CORRUPTION, as soon as possible. During the Deepavali day, I visited my friends in Negeri Sembilan and Melaka. It is a shame that professionals like Doctors, lawyers, teachers etc.. DID NOT KNOW ABOUT THE GATHERING on 10th. November. It is so sad that so many people… Read more »

Julian Jock
Julian Jock
12 Nov 2007 5.00pm

I have only one word for u and it is “Amazing” and this is true malaysians going out against the dreamers of BN. They have been far too long seating on the bench and doing very little to uplift the country’s development.

I only wish that I was there marching together with all of the community.

Hope this will continue to ensure that truth and justice prevails over the ruthless regime

12 Nov 2007 7.18pm

I am proud that Malaysians have risen to the challenge to put our governemnt on notice that we are not to be cowed by threats and warnings.