28 April: Thousands of protesters gathered in Kuala Lumpur’s central square calling for changes to the electoral system, which they claim has been manipulated to favour the long-ruling coalition in forthcoming elections.
Witnesses say the protesters trampled through barbed-wire barricades set up around the heavily-guarded Merdeka Square, in defiance of a court order that had banned them from the square.
Protesters also battled with police at a train station nearby, throwing bottles and chairs at officers who responded by firing tear gas rounds.
Most of the protesters had dispersed about an hour after the violence began, but several hundred remained and were still taunting police.
16 April: Luka Kita. Today was the third day of the Occupy Dataran protest camp at Dataran Merdeka (Independence Square), Kuala Lumpur. The camp started on Saturday (April 14) after students and youth marched through the streets of Kuala Lumpur protesting for the abolishment of PTPTN (the Malaysian version of student loans) and the establishment of free tertiary education.
Occupy Dataran started last July as the KL manifestation of the Take The Square Movement, inspired by occupations of public space in Spain and Tel Aviv. The first Occupy Dataran was held on July 30, last year, and the first official KL People’s Assembly was held the following week on August 6. As many occupiers in KL, including myself, love to point out to everyone we can, the first Occupy Dataran was held 7 weeks before Occupy Wall Street began (but unfortunately the Malaysian media still refers to Occupy Dataran as a local offshoot of Occupy Wall St, merely expressing solidarity with the Occupy Wall St movement). Since then, Occupy Dataran has been a weekly assembly at Dataran Merdeka (or various other public spaces depending on how the police are feeling on the night) as a platform for experimentation with participatory democracy based on the popular assembly model. Apart from the assembly, the weekly gathering often involves a Really Really Free Market (Pasar Percuma), Speakers’ Corner, People’s University (Universiti Rakyat), workshops, music and other activities.
As I’m writing here from my bedroom in Sydney, I can’t write about the events from my own observations and involvement as I normally would. So, instead I’ll try to piece together a good view of what’s going on in KL from the fragments I can glean from Twitter, Facebook, news sites and conversations with friends who are involved. Continue reading “Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Occupy Dataran Protest Camp”