The Bersih chairperson declares the protest a victory, saying that Malaysians have spoken with one voice.
Addressing supporters at Central Market before marching towards Dataran Merdeka, Bersih chairperson S Ambiga heralded the gathering as a victory.
“This is already an achievement. Today is our day. No one can take it away from us. Today, we speak with one voice. We want a clean election,” she stressed.
The former Bar Council president also called on the protesters not to break through the barriers errected at Dataran Merdeka.
“We will gather where they allow us to gather,” she said, urging those present to follow the rules.
“We are peaceful Malaysians and will not listen to anyone’s provocations. We will not reach Dataran, we will walk to where they allow us to and sit there.
Bersih steering committee member Hishammuddin Rais meanwhile told the crowd that about 150,000 people had gathered in support of the rally.
The police have obtained a court order barring the 55-year-old lawyer and the public from entering Dataran Merdeka. Copies of this court order have been pasted on traffic lights leading to the square.
Ambiga became a household name after she led a mammoth street protest last July despite stern warnings from the authorities and death threats.
The high-handed police action to thwart the rally drew international condemnation and forced the Najib administration to look into Bersih’s demands to reform the electoral process.
Today’s rally was called after Bersih expressed dissatisfaction with the Parliamentary Select committee’s report on electoral reforms.
‘Reject Najib, Umno and EC’
Meanwhile, PKR deputy president Azmin Ali made an appearance at the Dataran Merdeka intersection and delivered a short speech.
“Najib, (the PM’s wife) Rosmah (Mansor), listen to the people. I warn you Najib, don’t give identification cards to foreigners.
“The future of Malaysia is in the hand of Malaysians, not Indonesians and Burmese. If you are man enough, stand by Malaysians,” he thundered.
“Reject Najib, Umno and EC,” he added before moving to meet the crowd near Jalan Raja Laut.
Suhakam commissioner James Nayagam, who was also on the streets, said the protest was peaceful in nature.
“I am here to negotiate. It’s peaceful according to the Federal Constitution,” he added when met near Dataran Merdeka.
Bar Council observer Daniel Lo echoed similar sentiments. “It’s their right to protest. In principle, Bar Council supports the right to peaceful assembly,” he added.
PM, DPM not in town
This time, he was apparently “holed up” at the Sarawak Hilton, monitoring the situation from there.
Najib had arrived in Sarawak on Thursday for a three-day visit.
The premier did a similar thing during the massive Bersih 2.0 rally last year.
Even his deputy, Muhyiddin Yassin, was apparently not in town.
According to Kota Belud MP Rahman Dahlan’s tweet this morning, Muhyiddin was visiting “my constituency today”. Kota Belud is in Sabah.
This means Kuala Lumpur was now without its prime minister and deputy prime minister.