Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Protestors Clash with Police in Kuala Lumpur - Eyewitness Account

"A demonstration against the current prime minister was attended by tens of thousands today. They were trying to occupy Merdeka Square, which is next to my Hostel in the centre of Town. Today they were denied entry to the square so the surrounding streets were filled with protesters in yellow shirts.

The initial group were protesting the high price of education. The current prime minister's brother is the owner of the only bank which will only loan to students at very high interest rates. An obvious conflict of interest. 

The group swelled with people questioning the legitimacy of electoral poll results. The current government refuse to release the names of the people who voted for them. There have been cases of 200 year old people voting, an obvious sign of corruption. Many are demanding the government show an open electoral role, they are refusing. Others joined the demonstration to voice environmental policy concerns. 

"The group swelled with people questioning the legitimacy of electoral poll results."

It all started peacefully, people were chanting and gathering in the streets. Everyone was nervous as during the last demonstration a bomb was detonated inside a police cone. Many speculate that the police themselves set the bomb themselves in an attempt to silence the protesters.

I went to visit some friends on the other side of town. When I returned chaos had ensued. I was not allowed out of the train station next to my hostel due to the large crowds. I continued on the train to the next station and weaved my way back. As I turned the corner I saw hundreds of people running towards me as tear gas filled the air. Down the next street I saw police in full riot gear marching towards me. I removed my t-shirt to protect my face from the gas. Several gun shots erupted from behind me and a tear gas canister flew past. The gas stung my eyes and burnt my throat. Making it hard to breath and impossible to see. 

"No one was being violent or dangerous, but for 4 hours now the police have attempted to silence and disperse the crowds."

I retreated to the safety of my hostel and we continued watching from the roof. The police continued to fire tear gas. Everyone was running and shouting. The tear gas stopped, the crowd re-gathered chanting more loudly. No one was being violent or dangerous, but for 4 hours now the police have attempted to silence and disperse the crowds. Tonight will be interesting..." 

- Henry Lowe, Socialist Aotearoa Correspondent in Malaysia

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