Day Two of Bersih rally begins with prayers, exercises after protesters sleep overnight in streets of KL

ST VIDEO: SHANNON TEOH
Malaysian rally goers at Day Two of the Bersih 4 rally.
Malaysian rally goers at Day Two of the Bersih 4 rally.ST PHOTO: SHANNON TEOH
Malaysian rally goers at Day Two of the Bersih 4 rally.
Malaysian rally goers at Day Two of the Bersih 4 rally.ST PHOTO: SHANNON TEOH
Protesters shout slogans during a rally organised by pro-democracy group Bersih (Clean) near Dataran Merdeka in Malaysia's capital city of Kuala Lumpur, on Aug 30, 2015.
Protesters shout slogans during a rally organised by pro-democracy group Bersih (Clean) near Dataran Merdeka in Malaysia's capital city of Kuala Lumpur, on Aug 30, 2015.PHOTO: REUTERS
A message painted on a protester's head is pictured during a rally organised by pro-democracy group Bersih (Clean) near Dataran Merdeka in Malaysia's capital city of Kuala Lumpur, on Aug 30, 2015.
A message painted on a protester's head is pictured during a rally organised by pro-democracy group Bersih (Clean) near Dataran Merdeka in Malaysia's capital city of Kuala Lumpur, on Aug 30, 2015.PHOTO: REUTERS
A supporter of pro-democracy group Bersih (Clean) walks over messages near a Malaysian national flag chalked on a street outside Dataran Merdeka (Freedom Square) in Malaysia's capital city of Kuala Lumpur on Aug 30, 2015.
A supporter of pro-democracy group Bersih (Clean) walks over messages near a Malaysian national flag chalked on a street outside Dataran Merdeka (Freedom Square) in Malaysia's capital city of Kuala Lumpur on Aug 30, 2015.PHOTO: REUTERS
Protesters rest in front of a banner during a rally organised by pro-democracy group Bersih (Clean) in Malaysia's capital city of Kuala Lumpur, on Aug 30, 2015.
Protesters rest in front of a banner during a rally organised by pro-democracy group Bersih (Clean) in Malaysia's capital city of Kuala Lumpur, on Aug 30, 2015.PHOTO: REUTERS
Protesters exercise during a rally organised by pro-democracy group Bersih (Clean) in Malaysia's capital city of Kuala Lumpur, on Aug 30, 2015.
Protesters exercise during a rally organised by pro-democracy group Bersih (Clean) in Malaysia's capital city of Kuala Lumpur, on Aug 30, 2015.PHOTO: REUTERS
Malaysian protestors sleep on the street during a Bersih (The Coalition for Free and Fair Elections) rally in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on Aug 30, 2015.
Malaysian protestors sleep on the street during a Bersih (The Coalition for Free and Fair Elections) rally in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on Aug 30, 2015.PHOTO: EPA
Many protesters, some of whom had spent the night sleeping on the street, woke up at around 7am and participated in the programmes arranged by Bersih, including "dancerobics".
Many protesters, some of whom had spent the night sleeping on the street, woke up at around 7am and participated in the programmes arranged by Bersih, including "dancerobics".ST PHOTO: SHANNON TEOH

KUALA LUMPUR (Bloomberg/THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysian rally goers woke up to the sounds of vuvuzelas on Sunday morning to begin Day Two of the Bersih 4 rally.

They had slept in the streets of the capital overnight on Saturday after thousands gathered in an anti-government rally that pointed to growing disquiet with Prime Minister Najib Razak over a funding scandal.

Many protesters, some of whom had spent the night sleeping on the street, woke up at around 7am and participated in the programmes arranged by Bersih, including "dancerobics".

Some went to the St John's Cathedral for morning mass, while some others decided to start their day by participating in the morning exercises. Interfaith morning prayers were also conducted at the site.

The noise level was, however, noticeably lower perhaps due to the repeated warnings and calls by organisers to stop using the horn.

The Straits Times, who was at the scene of the protests on Saturday and Sunday morning, was told by Bersih that there were a few arrests of people wearing the banned Bersih yellow T-shirts outside of Kuala Lumpur.

A bus carrying about 30 people heading to Kuala Lumpur was also stopped in Bentong and told to turn back.

There were about 1,000 people sleeping in the streets on Sunday morning, while throughout Saturday protesters numbered about 25,000, Kuala Lumpur police Chief Tajuddin Mohd Isa said.

Earlier on Saturday, the crowd sang patriotic songs, waved flags and chanted slogans near Kuala Lumpur's Merdeka Square as the police manned barricades and prevented entry to the area.

The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections, or Bersih, estimated 250,000 people attended its third major rally since Datuk Seri Najib came to power in 2009. The government banned people from wearing the yellow T-shirts encouraged by protest organizers, while the authorities blocked four websites linked to the rally.

"We are expecting a second wave of people to come today," said Maria China Abdullah, chairman of the Bersih committee organizing the protest. "We are in the hundreds of thousands territory if you look at the whole picture."

Mr Tajuddin said two homemade explosives were thrown at tents near the Federal House which is near Independence Square in the early evening on Saturday. He said police are investigating and that the explosives were firecrackers tied to plastic bottles. The rally was peaceful otherwise, he said.

The size of the rally indicates public dissatisfaction with his leadership at a time the economy is slowing.

"By not halting the rally and taking a softer approach, the hardline government has consolidated its position," said Dr Clive Kessler, an emeritus professor at the University of New South Wales who has studied Malaysian politics since 1965. "I still can't say the same about Najib - his issues are still not resolved."

The Premier criticized protest organisers for being provocative and choosing a date so close to Independence Day on Aug 31, saying a national holiday shouldn't be used as a stage for political strife.

The rally organizers and participants are "shallow and poor" in patriotism, the official Bernama news agency cited him as saying on Saturday. While people have different political views they should honor those who died so the nation could gain independence, he said.

Former prime minister Mahathir Mohammad made a brief appearance at the rally. He smiled and waved but did not address the crowd, telling people near him "I just came to see".

The FireChat messaging application was downloaded 41,000 times from Aug 22 to Aug 26, according to developer Open Garden, which said people were concerned cellular networks may be congested during the protest that is due to run through Sunday.

In 2012, riot police clashed with protesters who broke through a barricade at the square, firing tear gas and water cannons. More than 400 people were arrested.

"Malaysians are sending a strong message to the government," said Ms Ambiga Sreenevasan, a Bersih leader, addressing the crowd through a loud hailer from the back of a truck. "Members of parliament must now move a motion of no confidence in Najib's government."

Previous protests drew a mostly urban crowd of minority Chinese and Indians. Analysts this time are watching if there will be more ethnic Malays, the bedrock of support for Umno.

"There are a lot of Chinese here, but also some Malays," said Abdul Jaafar Mohd Aziz, a 37-year-old engineer attending Saturday's rally. "The Malays may not go to the street but that doesn't mean they are aren't angry with Najib. Wait for the next election, then you will see."

The political unease is distracting the administration from the financial turbulence hitting the country, said Mr Chua Hak Bin, an economist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in Singapore. Foreign funds have dumped more than US$3 billion of local equities this year and the ringgit fell to a 17-year low.

"I'm here to support the Bersih demands," said Mr Desmond Foo, a 55-year-old business owner who came with more than 200 people from Johor Bahru on the border with Singapore. "We want clean elections, a clean government and, mostly, we want to save the economy from sinking."