Tags: malaysia | election | opposition | rally

Opposition to Defy Malaysia Police With Rally Against Vote Result

Wednesday, 08 May 2013 05:20 AM

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Malaysia opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim plans to lead a rally Wednesday night to dispute the results of the May 5 election even after police threatened to arrest anyone who attends.

“We are going ahead with the rally,” Rafizi Ramli, strategic director of Anwar’s People’s Justice Party, said by phone in Kuala Lumpur Wednesday. “We have gone to inform the police. The basis of informing them is for them to help with the traffic.”

The rally is planned for a stadium in Selangor, outside Kuala Lumpur.

If Anwar proceeds it will be an offense under Malaysia’s Peaceful Assembly Act, Selangor police chief Tun Hisan Tun Hamzah said in a text message, adding that police could arrest people who show up for the protest.

“The rally today is illegal,” he wrote. “The organizers blatantly disregard the requirements of the law.”

The planned protest could heighten tensions as Anwar seeks momentum for his claims the election was rigged, even as he is yet to spell out how he may challenge the results.

He cited the total vote tally Tuesday in a statement disputing the outcome and accusing the Election Commission of “being complicit in the worst electoral fraud in our nation’s history.”

Prime Minister Najib Razak’s Barisan Nasional coalition won the poll with 133 of 222 parliamentary seats, while losing the popular vote to Anwar’s three-party People’s Alliance.

‘Not Fair‘

“The election was free and fair and passed off peacefully without major incident,” Najib’s office said in an emailed statement Wednesday, “yet the opposition has spent three days hunting for instances of alleged malpractice.”

The statement added that “Anwar has deliberately refused to apply for permission” for a rally “calculated to create unrest.”

The Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs, a group accredited by the Election Commission to observe the vote, said Wednesday it was “only partially free and not fair.”

While the campaign period proceeded “without any major glitches,” wider issues such as media bias and unequal constituency sizes gave an advantage to Najib’s coalition, the group known as IDEAS said.

‘Institutional Bias’

“The extent of unfairness and institutional bias severely limited the exercise of freedom of choice,” Wan Saiful Wan Jan, chief executive of IDEAS, told reporters in Putrajaya, outside Kuala Lumpur. The opposition “won the majority of the popular vote” and “have all the legitimacy that they need” to start a people’s power campaign, he said.

IDEAS, together with the Center for Public Policy Studies, released an interim report Wednesday on the findings of 325 observers who covered 99 parliamentary seats in peninsular Malaysia and six overseas polling centers. Recommendations included improving voter lists and redrawing electoral districts to ensure a more representative parliament.

A Merdeka Center survey released on May 3 showed 42 percent of voters agreed that Anwar’s People’s Alliance should be given a chance to govern while 41 percent of voters felt only Barisan Nasional could do the job.

Some 50 percent viewed the ruling coalition positively while 34 percent held the same view on the opposition. Najib’s approval rating slipped to 61 percent from 64 percent in March, the poll showed.

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Malaysia opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim plans to lead a rally Wednesday night to dispute the results of the May 5 election even after police threatened to arrest anyone who attends.
Wednesday, 08 May 2013 05:20 AM
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