Around 500 Malaysian students in Taiwan held a rally in Taipei on Saturday, calling for clean elections in their home country and urging greater international pressure to achieve that goal in the next general election.
The rally, one of three held in Taiwan the same day, was part of the Bersih 3.0 demonstration in more than 20 countries on Saturday to call for clean and fair elections in Malaysia.
The other two rallies in Taiwan took place in Hualien and Tainan.
“Save Malaysia,” shouted the protestors, most of whom were college students, at National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in Taipei. They also shouted “Bersih,” which means “clean” in Malay, and sang their national anthem.
They called for the Election Commission of Malaysia to resign and the government to allow international observers into the country for the 13th general election, which is scheduled to take place before the end of 2013.
The protestors also said that several electoral reforms mentioned in a 2011 rally should be carried out before the next election. The proposed reforms include a cleanup of electoral rolls, reforms in postal voting, the use of indelible ink to prevent electoral fraud, extension of the campaign period from the current 10 days to 21 days, and fair access to mainstream media.
In addition, the demonstrators said, they are against a rare earth plant built by Australian firm Lynas in eastern Malaysia, which critics fear could pose a radioactive hazard.
“We hope that international attention and pressure can force the Malaysian government to carry out reforms,” said Chan Kuang Ming, a Malaysian Chinese and one of the organizers of the rally.
Chan said the demonstrations in Taiwan were initiated by individual students on Facebook and that some Taiwanese groups had also joined the rally to support the students.
The 23 year-old Chinese major said the three rallies in Taiwan have drawn at least 700 participants, twice the number at a similar protest in 2011.
“We want to tell the Malaysian government that the people are becoming impatient,” said Chang Teck Peng, a Malaysian Chinese doctoral student of communications at Shih Hsin University.
“We want them to see that there are not only 1,000 or 10,000 people, but 100,000 taking to the streets,” said Chang. “And not only in Kuala Lumpur, but in places like Taiwan, Australia, Saudi Arabia, United States and Europe.”
An estimated 20,000 protestors took to the streets in Malaysia’s largest city Kuala Lumpur on Saturday to urge Prime Minister Najib Razak’s ruling National Front, which has governed the country for 55 years, to allow greater transparency in the next election.
(By Christie Chen)