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KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 22 — The Kuala Lumpur mayor has closed Dataran Merdeka in the evenings for a week after candlelight vigils held for Maria Chin Abdullah’s release saw swelling numbers.
About 800 people turned up at the vigil in the historic square this evening for the Bersih 2.0 chair’s release from detention without trial, up from about 300 last night.
“The Kuala Lumpur mayor has closed the whole of Dataran Merdeka starting from November 22, 2016, until November 29, 2016, from 5pm till 7am every day.
“Whoever is found at Dataran Merdeka or who refuses to obey the directive can be chased out of Dataran Merdeka,” read the announcement on a screen that was made after today’s vigil.
The announcement by Kuala Lumpur Mayor Datuk Seri Mhd Amin Nordin Abd Aziz cited By-Law 14 of the Local Government (Dataran Merdeka) (Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur) By-Laws 1992, which states that anyone who breaches any of the by-laws can be ordered out of Dataran Merdeka.
Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and his wife, Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali, attended last night’s vigil for Maria, who has been detained under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma).
The activist was arrested on November 18, the day before the Bersih 5 demonstration that saw more than 10,000 people hit the streets of the capital city, under Section 124C of the Penal Code that prohibits the attempt to commit activities detrimental to parliamentary democracy.
Former Bersih 2.0 chair Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan attended today’s candlelight vigil, as well as DAP leaders Lim Kit Siang and Tony Pua.
Civil society, the Malaysian Bar and opposition politicians have called for the release of the 60-year-old electoral reform activist, who can be detained under Sosma for up to 28 days without trial.
Deputy Home Minister Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed, however, claimed that Sosma does not only apply to terrorism suspects, but it can be used for “anything that disturbs national security and sovereignty”.
The Bersih 5 rally had called for the prime minister to step down.