KUALA LUMPUR, May 28 (Reuters) - Malaysian riot police used water cannon in the capital on Sunday to break up a protest against the rising price of fuel and electricity.
For the third time since the rare anti-government protests began in March, police trained water cannon on hundreds of protesters outside the headquarters of the state oil company, Petronas, in Kuala Lumpur's soaring twin towers.
"Everybody is suffering from the fuel hike," independent online newspaper Malaysiakini quoted one of the protest leaders, Hatta Ramli, as telling the crowd. "These two hikes will hit us hard, whether our pay is large or small."
Sunday's rally, part of a series of peaceful protests organised by opposition parties, follows a steep rise in the state-subsidised fuel prices since October 2004, including a 40 percent increase in the pump price of petrol.
Last week, the government approved a 12 percent rise in electricity bills. It exempted poorer consumers, but opposition parties seized on the rise to step up the attack on a government besieged by high oil prices, inflation and rising interest rates.
Police fired water cannon and charged protesters after they refused orders to disperse, Malaysiakini said. Two people were taken to hospital with injuries and 18 were arrested, it added.
Protest leader Hatta, of the Islamist opposition party PAS, said this would be the final rally and that the protest against higher energy prices would now enter a new phase, Malaysiakini reported. It did not elaborate.
State news agency Bernama has not reported on the protests. - Reuters.
Report (in Malay) and photo in HarakahDaily.