Malaysia

Between 70,000 to 100,000 at KL rally, says Bar Council

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 12 – Some 70,000 to 100,000 attended the Himpunan Kebangkitan Rakyat rally in Stadium Merdeka here, says the Bar Council which sent monitors to observe the protest organised by the federal opposition.

The police which had initially estimated at least 80,000 in the historic stadium later slashed the figure to 45,000 – both inside and outside the venue – calling their earlier figure a “technical error”.

“The Malaysian Bar had around 20 to 30 monitors observe the rally today in and around Stadium Merdeka,” Bar Council president Lim Chee Wee (picture) told The Malaysian Insider in an emailed statement.

“The crowd was at least 70,000 up to 100,000 in and outside of the stadium,” he added.

Lim pointed out that the gathering showed that Malaysians could assemble peacefully.

“All the police had to do was to facilitate the exercise of freedom of assembly,” said the lawyer.

Unlike the previous Bersih electoral reform rallies where the authorities fired tear gas and water cannons, the Himpunan Kebangkitan Rakyat rally was free from violence.

“The police facilitated the rally and exercised restraint,” said Lim.

The Himpunan Kebangkitan Rakyat rally ended with a pledge by Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim that a PR federal government will have zero tolerance for corruption.

The mass rally was organised by both political leaders from PR and non-partisan members of various civil society groups as a final showcase of election issues before the 13th general election is called by June.

Activists had brought up issues like electoral reform, environmental issues, oil royalties, Felda settlers’ rights, disabled people’s rights, and women’s rights.

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