Malaysia avoids repeat of violence as government allows mass opposition protest
In stark contrast with earlier "illegal" opposition rallies staged in July 2011 and April 2012 that ended up in violent confrontations with the government forces, the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) alliance-organised Himpunan Kebangkitan Rakyat ('People's Uprising Rally') ended peacefully, with no reported arrests. The rally was made possible by the government's decision last week to grant a rare permit for the opposition forces to hold a gathering at the historic stadium, organised ahead of the next general election. According to the police, the rally was attended by some 45,000 people. The opposition's estimate was much higher, at 100,000. With the stadium accommodating only 30,000 people, much of the crowd was gathered outside.
Rainbow campaign starts
The People's Uprising Rally is the first major gathering organised by opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim's three-party coalition, which is seeking to unseat the long-ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition in the next general election, required by 27 June. The rally effectively marks the launching of the opposition campaign ahead of the much anticipated poll, expected to be Malaysia's most hotly contested ever.
Although the key focus of the rally was calls for free and fair elections and a reform of the much criticised voting system, marred with irregularities, the broader concept of change called for by the opposition was evident.213 of 608 words
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