Protesters rally in central KL over 'backdoor' government

Protesters gather during a demonstration to protest the ejection of the democratically elected government in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on March 1, 2020. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

KUALA LUMPUR - About 100 protesters defied police warnings and rallied in central Kuala Lumpur on Sunday (March 1) against the appointment of Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin as Malaysia's prime minister and what they said was his "backdoor" government.

This was the third rally held in the week since the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government collapsed after dozens of lawmakers left the coalition.

Carrying placards with the words "#NotMyPM" and "Uphold democracy", the protesters chanted "Reject traitors, reject racism" and "Hidup Rakyat" (Long live the people) as they gathered in front of Sogo mall in Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman at around 6pm.

Former chairperson of electoral watchdog Bersih, Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan and Mr Faiz Fadzil, deputy youth chief of PH ally Parti Amanah Negara, attended the protest.

"My single demand is for an emergency session to be held in Parliament this week and all the numbers must be counted at Parliament," said Ms Ambiga, referring to the number of lawmakers who support Mr Muhyiddin.

"When there are questions marks on how they (the new government) arrive at that, the best way for stability is to go back to Parliament."

The rally was organised by a group that called itself Save Malaysia Demonstration Committee.

The group wants Parliament to be dissolved and fresh polls held. It also demands that party-hopping be banned, trials of corrupt individuals be continued and draconian laws be abolished.

Police were present but did not stop the protest despite a warning earlier by Dang Wangi district police chief Mohd Fahmi Visuvanthan for people to stay away.

"There is no notice for the assembly and Sogo is not gazetted as a protest venue," he said in a statement.

Mr Muhyiddin is backed by former opposition parties Umno and Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) that were defeated at the 2018 general election.

Sunday's protest followed a similar gathering on Saturday night at Dataran Merdeka, and another one last week by civil societies that saw hundreds turn up.

Activist lawyer Fadiah Nadwa Fikri said in a statement on Sunday that she has been "singled out" by the police for posting a video of Saturday's gathering, and is being investigated for sedition and improper use of network facilities.

"Now more than ever, we must find and create spaces, knowledge, comfort and strength together. We must not be intimidated," she said.

Electoral watchdog Bersih 2.0 reiterated on Sunday its stand against any "backdoor government," saying it is undemocratic and a betrayal of the people's trust in the government they voted for.

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