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Malaysian police launch crackdown ahead of anti-price hike rally

Kuala Lumpur (dpa) - Malaysia arrested the suspected organiser of planned protests against unpopular price hikes, police said Tuesday.



Student Azan Safar, 24, a leader of youth activist movement Solidariti Anak Muda Malaysia, was arrested for calling for rallies on New Year’s Eve, said Superintendent Lai Lee Ching, communication officer with the federal police.

"The police is actively pursuing several other individuals who are suspected to have incited the public to attend a gathering at the end of this year," he said in a statement. A series of price hikes have caused the approval ratings of Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak to fall to 52 per cent in December, their lowest since he took office in 2009, and down from 62 per cent in August, the Merdeka Center said last week. "Concern over the economy, particularly in the form of rising costs and inflation rose to its highest-ever recorded level of 67 percent," the independent body said. Since coming to power Najib has cut petrol subsidies, boosting prices by up to 11 per cent, and increased the price of sugar. Electricity rates are set to rise on January 1.A deputy minister was recently quoted in local media saying that road tolls may also go up next year, stirring further outrage.


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