Protests, democracy; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

I spent most of my only day in Malaysia in the back seats of various taxis, primarily in and around Putrajaya, south of Kuala Lumpur. Putrajaya is the administrative center of Malaysia, and from the airport it is on the way to Kuala Lumpur.

We hit one police roadblock, which the driver explained to me was in place to keep an eye out for anti-goverment protesters, who I learned the next day while watching Al Jazeera and Russia Today in my hotel room in Amsterdam, were planning to protest this weekend in Kuala Lumpur.

(I think it was Al Jazeera. Russia Today was busy talking about how, now, after the United States has suspended its space program, that only Russians will be able to spend men into space.)

The protest group is known locally as Bersih 2.0 (Bersih means clean, in the Malay language) and exists to call attention to election rigging and other anti-democractic behavior. Bersih wears yellow t-shirts and has been declared illegal, with hundreds having already been arrested and imprisoned indefinitely. Not knowing anything about Malaysian politics, I do think it is a bit suspicious that the same party [Barisan Nasional (National Front)] has ruled Malaysia since 1955.

My driver, wearing a yellow shirt, said to me, Don't worry, we are OK. Taxis always OK.