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MALAYSIA ON HIGH ALERT AHEAD OF PLANNED NEW YEAR’S EVE PROTESTS



KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia -  New Year's Eve is typically a night of celebration, but in Malaysia, some groups are planning protests, counting down to a year they feel will be filled with economic hardship.
Turun is one coalition that will be rallying on 31 December, against slashes to subsidies, hikes in electricity tariffs and the impending introduction of the GST.
Police believe the opposition-linked Turun may have more dangerous plans, and on Monday night, they detained its leader, 24-year-old Mohd Azan Safar.
Malaysian authorities are on high alert as they prepare to crack down on anyone participating in a street rally calling for an overthrow of the government.
Mr Mohd Azan’s lawyer, Mr Ahmad Zamri Asa’ad Khuzaimi, said: "That is what the police said -- investigating a plot to overthrow the government -- which for us is very ridiculous; for a student (who just) graduated to overthrow the government, (it) is a very big allegation."
Mr Muhamad Bukhari, from Turun, said: "It’s unrealistic and a lunatic idea. We deny it, we never tried to compromise or (be) involved in the group that tried to abolish the government.”
Police are on high alert after news broke on social media of a New Year Eve's rally with plans to topple the Barisan Nasional government.
A special investigative task force was even set up after someone posted a Facebook status asking where he could find a bomb for the rally.
Turun maintains that its gathering is peaceful and separate from the one calling to overthrow the government.
But Mr Mohd Azan is being investigated for threatening "parliamentary democracy”, in addition to failing to give authorities 10 days’ notice of Turun's protest as required by the law.
Despite that incident and suggestions that more people will be investigated in the days to come, Turun said it is not afraid.
Mr Muhamad Bukhari, from Turun, said: "We're not scared and we're trying to mobilise many students, the people, to come and join our assembly on December 31."
Whether or not Turun has anti-government motives, the authorities said it will take stern action against anyone who organises rallies without observing the proper laws and requirements.

Source: Agencies
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