PICTURES, VIDEO

Malaysians protest against elections at Merlion Park

A crowd of Malaysians gathered near a Singapore landmark last night to protest against what they claimed were rigged elections in their country.

Dressed mostly in black, the crowd of mainly young people stood at Merlion Park in Marina Bay, holding up signs and chanting occasionally.

They also sang the Malaysian national anthem.

They started gathering at about 9.30pm and soon started to chant "ubah", which means change in Malay, as well as "return democracy to me" in Mandarin.

"Ubah" had been a rallying cry of Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim.

Placards sported slogans such as "No Racism. Unity. Peace. Harmony" and "We Want Bersih (clean)".

Similar gatherings appeared to have been held in Sydney, Melbourne and Taipei, according to photographs posted on Facebook. The crowd at Merlion Park yesterday appeared to be peaceful, with some participants seen taking pictures with Singapore-based Malaysian actor Zhang Yaodong, who made a brief appearance.

At least 10 of the participants told The Straits Times that the message about the gathering was spread spontaneously yesterday through social media.

Many of them were not aware who started the protest, but said they received calls or messages from their friends and decided to be a part of the event.

They said placards were already being handed out when they arrived, so they simply passed them on.

Property agent Low Jong Jiang, 23, said he saw a picture of the crowd on Facebook and "rushed over in a cab" together with a group of friends.

"We all feel disappointed that we can't join the rally in Kelana Jaya. We're just here to walk in the spirit of the people there," Mr Low said.

Uniformed policemen watched the crowd from the Esplanade Bridge. The crowd dispersed at about 11pm, when plainclothes policemen arrived at the scene.

brynasim@sph.com.sg

davidee@sph.com.sg