By Ida Lim
KUALA LUMPUR, April 28 —Thousands of people gathered peacefully today at several cities in the country including George Town, Johor Baru and Kota Kinabalu to support Bersih’s call for free and fair elections.
Despite strong police presence at the Bersih rallies in these cities, there were no clashes between demonstrators and authorities in contrast to the sit-in protest in Kuala Lumpur.
Several thousands gathered at the Penang Esplanade with some Pakatan Rakyat (PR) leaders including Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng.
A few thousands were also in Dataran Bandaraya in Johor Baru where they were closely watched by a sizeable team of policemen.
Malaysians crossed over from Singapore to meet at the Johor Baru Waterfront shopping mall as Singapore did not give approval for such a rally.
In Sabah, several hundreds also gathered at the closely-guarded Padang Merdeka in Kota Kinabalu.
Police fired water cannons and tear gas on demonstrators who pushed through the barricades in front of Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) leading to Dataran Merdeka, resulting in chaos on the streets.
Some of the 15,000-strong crowd, led by PKR deputy president Azmin Ali, broke down the barriers and moved towards the historic square, leading to police firing chemical-laced water and tear gas canisters.
Police fired as far as the DBKL premises, which are across Jalan Parlimen, and the move broke up the crowd at Dataran who fled helter-skelter.
More than 30 were arrested and taken to be processed at the Royal Selangor Club, which is the closest they have gotten to the square.