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 Malaysia: Malaysia Says Olympics Must Be Free Of Politics; Prepares Tight Security For Torch Run

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Registration date : 2008-01-28

PostSubject: Malaysia: Malaysia Says Olympics Must Be Free Of Politics; Prepares Tight Security For Torch Run   Mon Apr 21, 2008 6:20 pm

KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA: A thousand police were ready to guard the Olympic torch relay Monday (21 Apr) in Malaysia against protests over China's Tibet crackdown and human rights record.

A Buddhist group held special prayers at a Kuala Lumpur temple for a trouble-free torch run Monday and a peaceful Olympics in August.

The flame arrived Sunday (20 Apr) from Bangkok on a plane dedicated to carry it to all 19 international destinations on the torch relay before it lands in Beijing for the Olympic Games' opening ceremony.

About 300 Chinese students studying in Malaysia greeted the flame at the airport along with representatives from the National Sports Council and the police, said a statement from Olympic Council of Malaysia.

"Malaysia takes this opportunity to reiterate that the Beijing Olympics should not be politicized and remains confident that the Olympics will be successfully held in August 2008," Foreign Minister Rais Yatim said in a statement.

The flame was taken to a luxury hotel in downtown Kuala Lumpur ahead of the starting at nearby Independence Square.

Its 16-kilometer (10-mile) route will highlight various landmarks including the top of the Kuala Lumpur Tower, a telecommunications installation that provides a scenic view of the city.

Protests in other countries have triggered unprecedented security for the Malaysian leg.

Some 1,000 policemen and commandos will be deployed along the route even though police have not received reports of any planned protests, said a police spokesman who declined to be named, citing protocol.

The relay through Bangkok on Saturday (19 Apr) was unmarred by demonstrations.

Growing criticism of China's human rights record has turned the Olympics into one of the most contentious in recent history, however.

China's recent crackdown in Tibet _ which forcefully put down sometimes-violent demonstrations against Beijing's rule over the Himalayan region _ set off protests and attempted disruptions of the torch relay in Paris, London and San Francisco.

About 30 Falun Gong spiritual movement practitioners demonstrated Friday (18 Apr) in Kuala Lumpur, calling for an end to alleged Chinese human rights abuses. China has banned the group as a dangerous cult.

Japan's historic Buddhist Zenkoji Temple was defaced with graffiti Sunday after it withdrew from a plan to be the starting point for the relay's leg in that country. The temple cited security concerns and sympathy for Tibetan protesters.

Police were investigating whether the vandalism was related to the temple's decision to withdraw from the event.

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