- Title: MALAYSIA-PROTESTS/PREVIEW Malaysia braces for mass anti-government rally
- Date: 28th August 2015
- Summary: BERSIH WEBSITE ADDRESS TYPED IN ADDRESS BAR: WWW.BERSIH.ORG VARIOUS OF COMPUTER SCREEN SHOWING ERROR MESSAGE SAYING (In English): FILE OR DIRECTORY NOT FOUND
- Embargoed: 12th September 2015 13:00
- Location: Malaysia
- Country: Malaysia
- Topics: General
- Reuters ID: LVACYY7J4NZBQVFA1E7072LQQIKQ
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Thousands of anti-government protesters are expected to attend a rally, organised by a local pro-democracy group Bersih, on the streets of Kuala Lumpur this weekend.
Bersih is demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Najib Razak over allegations of graft and financial mismanagement at debt-laden state fund 1MDB and a multi-million-dollar donation made into his personal account.
Kuala Lumpur authorities have rejected Bersih's application for a permit to protest, setting the stage for a possible showdown with security forces. Police used water cannon and tear gas to disperse protesters at Bersih's last big rally in 2012.
The Star newspaper said armed forces would intervene if the government declared a state of emergency during the rally. A military spokesman declined to comment on the report.
An increase in security was seen in the Malaysian capital on Friday (August 28) and many roads were closed as thousands of yellow-shirted protesters are expected gather at five sites on Saturday (August 29) and prepare to converge in the city's landmark Merdeka Square, also known as Independence Square in the centre.
"We can see this has been happening since the start of the year, every month there has been a protest. This one (organised by Bersih) will be the biggest one yet. If the government still fails to respond, we will continue to fight," said 29-year-old Bersih activist Mohd Ezzuandi Ngadi.
Bersih's webpage, http://www.bersih.org, was not accessible in Malaysia on Friday, a day after the government said it would block sites that spread information and encourage people to join the two-day rally in the capital, Kuala Lumpur, and two other cities.
The weekend rally is the fourth of its kind organised by Bersih, which means clean in Bahasa Malaysia.
Bersih's chairwoman Maria Chin Abdullah said their goal was to have a more accountable and transparent political system.
"At this stage, Malaysians have overcome that fear culture and yet the government doesn't even recognise that. And what we really want is to have rational discussion and implementation of changes that will actually make our system, make our institution more accountable and more transparent. And not be still stuck in the system that breed corruption and breed non-accountability," Maria said in a phone interview.
On Friday, Najib criticised the rally organisers for holding the protest so close to independence day celebrations on Monday (August 31).
Najib has been embroiled in a political storm amid allegations of graft and financial mismanagement at state fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB), which is $11 billion in debt, and whose advisory board he chairs.
Support for Najib in the Southeast Asian nation has hit a record low.
Local resident Hardew Singh was determined to join the protests that call for Najib to step down.
"No I don't trust him (Najib), he is zero. Najib is zero for me, he's really zero, he's nothing. He's good for nothing, he must go. To save our country I only advise Najib to go because he can't handle the situation now. He's out, he's already out," he said.
Some locals were worried that the protests may get out of hand.
"I hope they don't do anything, because I'm afraid, I worry they will fight," said Rohani Taufik Muhammad, whose shop is located next to the square.
In July, the Wall Street Journal reported that investigators looking into 1MDB found that nearly $700 million was deposited into Najib's private bank account. Reuters has not verified the report.
Malaysia's anti-graft agency has since verified the funds were a donation from the Middle East. On Aug. 3 it said it would ask Najib to explain why the donation was deposited into his private account.
Najib has denied wrongdoing and said he did not take any money for personal gain.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
- Copyright Notice: (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2015. Open For Restrictions - http://about.reuters.com/fulllegal.asp
- Usage Terms/Restrictions: Video restrictions: parts of this video may require additional clearances. Please see ‘Business Notes’ for more information.