Issue #536 (Issue cover-dated May 7, 2003)

MALAYSIA: Police grant May Day rally permit

BY BEH LIH YI

KUALA LUMPUR — Around 1000 people, including plantation and factory workers, farmers, urban settlers and students, attended a lunch-time rally on May 1 in the Dataran Merdeka (Independence Square) to commemorate May Day.
Organised by a coalition comprising various non-governmental organisations, labour groups and opposition parties, the rally featured songs, speeches and a sketch. The central theme of this year's May Day rally was solidarity with Iraqi workers in the face of the US occupation.
Representatives from different organisations gave short speeches appealing to the government to implement equitable wages for all workers. A declaration opposing war, privatisation and attacks on workers' rights, endorsed by 62 groups, was read out.
This was the first year that the police had issued a permit for the annual May Day rally in Kuala Lumpur.
Malaysian Socialist Party (PSM) president Dr Nasir Mohd Hashim described this year's May Day gathering as registering a “symbolic change” as, after nine years of refusals, the police had granted a permit for the May Day rally.

From Green Left Weekly, May 7, 2003.