'Malaysian Spring' starts with tear gas and demonstrations

Members of Malaysia's civil society took to the streets again, demanding transparency and reform.

In a demonstration held today, April 28, in Kuala Lumpur, thousands of Malaysian activists belonging to the 'Bersih' marched in the city center, asking for changes to the electoral system. Police estimated that 25,000 demonstrators participated, while organizers placed the figure at 80,000. Police fired teargas and used water cannons to disperse the demonstrators and arrested more than 20 people. According to the authorities, the procession was not authorized to parade in the historic Independence Square (Merdeka Square).

As the general elections approaches, the Malaysian Parliament in past weeks passed a series of reforms, but according to the movement, the main problem remains unsolved: that of electoral fraud which, after independence, has ensured the continuity of power to the party " Barisan Nasional ". According to the activists, even the Electoral Commission is biased and the lists of voters are falsified.

Among the founders of the "Bersih" movement (which means "transparency") are the Catholic lawyer Edmund Bon and Hindu lawyer Ambiga Sreenevasan. The latter is  known for her commitment to the defense of human rights.

The movement had already launched demonstrations and public events in July 2011, called "Spring of the East", in analogy with the "Arab spring". Today, the movement calls for transparency in the electoral process and the invitation of international observers to monitor the vote.

There were many Christians present at the demonstration. Thousands came to Kuala Lumpur from the surrounding areas. Young Christians, note sources, "think that the Church should be more present for the renewal of people's lives. There is a desire to participate and contribute to the common good, pointing out social problems, issues related to justice, legality, education system. Malaysian Christians want more involvement with the world, to bring Christian values into the public sphere. "

Source: Fides

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