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Malaysian police fire tear gas on protesters

Reuters/Samsul Said

Malaysian police on Sunday fired tear gas and water cannons to break up an opposition-backed protest focused on public utilities. Organisers say 15,000 people defied a ban on the rally in the capital Kuala Lumpur.

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The conflict is over water management in the state of Selangor, which is run by an opposition coalition led by the Justice party, or Ke-Adilan.
 

Ke-Adilan MP Sivarasa Rasiah, Kuala Lumpur

In 2005, the federal government privatised water management in Selangor to Syabas but it has now run into financial problems. Ke-Adilan wants to take back water management, but the federal government and Syabas are blocking the move.

“We went water to go back to state hands and to be managed properly,” says Ke-Adilan MP Sivarasa Rasiah. “Today’s demonstration was simply a peaceful effort to hand a memorandum over to the king, seeking the intervention of the king to resolve this deadlock. Instead of allowing this demonstration the police used violence.”

Some 60 people have been arrested, according to initial reports.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Najib Razak on Sunday said that elections will be held soon.

The ruling Barisan Nasional coalition does not have to call polls until 2013 but it may call snap polls early next year, after a series of by-election victories.

Najib criticised the Ke-Adilan, describing them as "anti-national elements”.

"Beware everyone, be careful everyone, they are very dangerous, they will do anything, including bad mouthing Malaysia abroad," he said.

 

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