KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The 'red shirt' rally in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday was not about upholding Malay dignity but was held as a retaliation to the Bersih rally, former prime minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said.
"As far as I know, it is nothing of that sort but it all started because of the yellow rally," he said on Thursday, when asked to comment on whether the red shirt rally was about upholding the dignity of Malays.
Tens of thousands had turned up at the rally on Wednesday, which was held in support of embattled Prime Minister Najib Razak and aimed at asserting the Malays' political power. It was also aimed at countering last month's massive Bersih protest, which called for Najib to step down over a funding controversy and was attended largely by Chinese.
Wednesday's rally - made up of mostly pro-Malay groups - was largely peaceful, although a crowd at Petaling Street turned unruly and clashed with riot police, forcing the police to disperse them with water cannons.
Abdullah said that there was no problem with any group holding peaceful assemblies but supporters should never resort to violence.
"If someone wanted to show they are supporters of the red or yellow shirt ... there is no problem. If they had started to fight, it would bring other bad implications and would destroy the good name of the country," he said.
Abdullah added that it was fortunate that there were no major incidents involving different races that took place during Wednesday's rally.
"Fortunately there was no fighting between races," he said.