Fight looms over Malaysian rally

AFP-JIJI

Malaysia’s opposition appeared headed for a clash with authorities Wednesday, saying it would defy a police threat to stop a protest rally by its leader, Anwar Ibrahim, over disputed election results.

Malaysia’s police chief said the opposition did not follow proper procedures for staging the Wednesday night rally and that participants would be arrested. Tian Chua, vice president of Anwar’s People’s Justice Party, acknowledged the opposition was not within the letter of the law over the gathering in a stadium outside Kuala Lumpur, but insisted it would go ahead.

Prime Minister Najib Razak, who was sworn in Monday, has insisted the polls were totally free and fair. But a joint report released Wednesday by two independent election watchdogs disputed that claim, saying the polls were marred by bias and irregularities that added up to “serious flaws” in the electoral system. The election was “only partially free and not fair,” the report concluded.

The report, by the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs and the Center for Public Policy Studies, cited continued questions over the integrity of the electoral roll. It also said issues including partisan use of government machinery, pro-government media bias, and indelible ink that washed off easily had left a blot on the election.