On 22 October 2007, the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (BERSIH), then a group of both politicians and civil society groups, announced a mass rally to press for electoral reform. The rally demanded four immediate reforms to the electoral process:
- a thorough cleanup of the electoral roll;
- the user of indelible ink to prevent multiple voting;
- the abolition of postal voting for military and police personnel;
- fair access to the mass media for all parties.
At the mass rally, a memorandum was submitted to DYMM Yang di-Pertuan Agong on 10 November 2007 that outlined both the immediate and long-term reforms needed in the Malaysian election process including the adherence of a “one-person, one-vote” principle.
BERSIH chose yellow – the colour for citizen actions and people’s power worldwide – as the theme colour for the rally.
The rally began at 3pm from gathering points at Masjid Jamek, Pasar Seni and Masjid Negara and marched towards the Istana.
The group from Masjid Jamek were sprayed with water cannons and tear gas canisters, while 10,000 people from Masjid Negara had begun marching to Istana Negara. A combined group of 40,000 people, stretching half a kilometre long along the highway were stopped by police 300 meters from the palace grounds. The group from Masjid Jamek and Sogo eventually joined them.
Police allowed a delegation of 7 people, including PAS's President Abdul Hadi Awang and Nasharuddin Mat Isa, DAP’s Lim Kit Siang and Lim Guan Eng and Keadilan's Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to enter the palace.
Approximately 34 participants were arrested, but released later that night.