Anil Netto reports on the reverbrations that were felt at the recent #KL112 ‘People’s Uprising Rally’ and the fillip it has provided the opposition ahead of the general election.
In a run-up to highly anticipated national elections, an estimated 100,000 people supporting the political opposition thronged Merdeka Stadium in the national capital for a rally organisers referred to as a “people’s uprising”.
Signalling a potential shift in government tack, unlike previous rallies where the call had been for reform of election rules and procedures, the event was not suppressed by security officials.
The rally was laden with historical symbolism, with opposition politicians likening their campaign to unseat the ruling United Malays Nasional Organisation (UMNO), which has held power with coalition partners since independence from colonial rule in 1957, to the country’s break from its colonial masters. Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim bellowed “Merdeka”, or independence, exactly seven times during the mass gathering.
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His rally cries harkened to Malaysia’s first prime minister Tunku Abdul Rahman’s seven emotional chants during the official handover ceremony from British rule on 31 August 1957, at the same stadium, which was constructed specially for the announcement of Independence.