The Straits Times
Published on Jan 09, 2013

Malaysian opposition to rally for poll reforms


KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) - Malaysia's opposition on Wednesday received rare permission to hold a weekend political rally in a historic stadium, ahead of hotly anticipated elections due within months.

Opposition organisers say the gathering on Saturday at the 30,000-seater Stadium Merdeka, in the capital Kuala Lumpur, will focus on continued widespread criticism of a voting system seen as skewed in favour of the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition.

Senior opposition politician, Hatta Ramli, from the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party said: "Not giving access to the stadium would have looked very bad for the government... They are doing the right thing and now we have a proper venue for the gathering. We want to make people aware of our demands for free and fair elections."

A rally for clean elections in April drew tens of thousands to the streets but degenerated into clashes between demonstrators and police, who were criticised for a response widely seen as heavy-handed.