The "red shirts" rally had its share of critics, including prominent Malays such as the Sultan of Johor, while a group of activists held a peaceful gathering at KLCC Park to remind people of the message of unity on Malaysia Day.
Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar warned in a Facebook posting that there was no room for hatred and racism in Johor. "Let me reiterate: There is no place for hatred and racism here in Johor Darul Ta'zim. It was never welcomed, nor will I ever welcome haters and racists here in Johor," he said in a message posted early yesterday morning.
"If anyone wants to practise hatred and racism in Johor Darul Ta'zim, the home of the Malays, Chinese and Indians - Bangsa Johor, please leave Johor immediately. That is an order."
The Sultan added that the Johor royal family and state government have worked hard over the years to ensure the state remains peaceful and stable. He also called on the authorities to come down hard on any racial instigators.
"Anyone who creates disharmony and spreads hatred here by promoting racism, will have to deal with me personally. Take this as a warning. This is not the stone age, do not be ungrateful - the Malays, Chinese and Indians all played their part. Johor Darul Ta'zim is home to the Malays, Chinese and Indians; they are Bangsa Johor."
A former diplomat, Datuk Noor Farida Ariffin, claimed some protesters were paid to attend the rally. "Rumour has it that these are basically 'rent a mob' and they have been paid by certain quarters. (Feelings of) disunity and racial intolerance have been deliberately stirred up," she said at a national unity conference.
She also called on politicians not to mislead the Malay community into racial hatred. "Politicians should stop playing tricks by trying to influence rural Malays that the Chinese, the Christians and the Jews are the bogeyman."
Across the city, more than a dozen people gathered at a public park to show their support for a picnic, "Malaysians for Malaysia - a walk in the park", to commemorate the nation's 52nd birthday.
"This would give a better image of Malaysia instead of marching and shouting vitriolic slogans. When we talk about the formation of Malaysia, it is really about living together and not about the dominance of one race," the movement's organiser Azrul Mohd Khalib told reporters. "That is not the way (Malaysia's first premier) Tunku Abdul Rahman imagined it."
Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir, the daughter of former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, was among those who joined the gathering that started at about 3pm.
"Everyone is allowed to do what he or she wants on Malaysia Day. All are allowed to gather and show what they feel as long as it is peaceful," she told reporters when asked about the rally.