Malaysians Gather for the ‘Uprising of the Citizens’

Tens of thousands joined the ‘Himpunan Kebangkitan Rakyat’ (literally translates to Uprising of the Citizens Rally) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia yesterday, January 12, 2013, organised by the Opposition coalition Pakatan Rakyat as they ramp up efforts in the lead up to the yet-to-be-announced general election that must occur this year.

The rally highlighted the Bersih demands (for free and fair elections), the campaign for free education, and protection of the environment. The Malaysian Insider cites information from the Malaysian Bar Council that between 70,000 and 100,000 people attended the rally.

Thousands joined the #kl112 march. Photo from @fitri34

Many Malaysian bloggers appear to be very supportive of the cause like Secret Garden:

Although I am not able to present myself there physically, but I am always with those who strive after a cleaner and fairer government, both mentally and spiritually.

The unprecedented success of Rally KL112 shows that our people (including myself) have finally awaken to the corrupted and errant government.

Thanks to advanced technologies and uncensored net, we are no longer blindfolded by main streamed media and government. That's why the rally is named as “People's Uprising”.

Ipohgal provided a summary of the event from her perspective:

Many came with salt, mineral water and towel, ready to face another round of tear gas and water cannon. Surprisingly, the police presence was minimal and there was a carnival atmosphere. Traders were doing good businesses selling T-shirts, souvenirs, foods and drinks around Stadium Merdeka.

About 50,000 to 60,000 people managed to pack into the Stadium and spent the hot afternoon listening to fiery speeches by the NGO’s and political leaders. Malays, Chinese, Indians, Eurasians, Ibans, Dayaks and the Orang Asal were all there. Young and old, male and female, came out in full force.

It is comforting to see total strangers standing or sitting together in solidarity. We were one people with one spirit. We were truly and proudly Anak-anak Bangsa Malaysia (Children of Malaysia). We clapped, we sang and we cheered with one voice. Everyone helped to pass mineral water around and we also donated money to cover the cost of renting the Stadium. Yes, we paid the organizers to attend, and not paid by them to attend.

View from Stadium Merdeka. Photo from @Fred9Fareed

There were also some who were sceptical about it, claiming that the Opposition is merely trying to engineer a revolution within Malaysia. For instance, Aeshah Adlina Karimposted pictures alleging that some Malaysians are supporting the Opposition in calling for a revolution that includes changing the Malaysian flag, supporting Chin Peng (a former leader of the Communist Party of Malaya who is in exile and who has applied and been denied entry into Malaysia), and ‘legalising LGBT’.

Dave Avran, instead took a rather neutral and light-hearted take of the rally.

Having rallies like today's for example is good for the nation. We have a lot of bored people who don't know what to do on weekends and need a reason to leave their malls.

Protesters also converged outside the stadium. Photo from @imokman

The topic has been very popular on Twitter, with the hashtag #KL112 and #HKR112 being promoted heavily by the organizers.

@ShakirAmeer: The cops are very nice and friendly. Crowd control ain't fun for anyone. Salute them! #kl112

@NatAsasi: we came, we rallied, we went home :) well done everybody! incl @PDRMsia @najibrazak. see how calm & peaceful things can be? :) #KL112

@wongkahwoh: Rakyat has proven that we can have #KL112 rally peacefully. Gov should apologize for their undemocratic mistake made during #709 #428.

@Bengbros: Im not a political person but i think #KL112, Bersih and all that crap is a joke.

@itsfrankiehere: “I know you have the right for a peaceful assembly. I also have right not to support you.” #kl112 @abby_abadi112

@tristupe: If government do a gathering, it is a “meet the rakyat”. If opposition do, it is “rally and against democracy”. #kl112

@niha_rika94: There are plenty of ways in channeling our opinions or frustrations to the current government not by marching on the roads #KL112 #HKR

@fahmi_fadzil: So many people, such different backgrounds. An amazing awe-inspiring sight. Quickly approaching Central Market, crowd getting huge. #kl112

@julia_ti: I don't think the rally/riots #kl112 #hkr112 represents the civil rights movement.

Earlier, Al Jazeera showed a video clip from YouTube of a dramatic ‘trailer’ for the rally using footage from past demonstrations:

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