30
Aug
15

Thousands join rally to pile pressure on Malaysia’s PM

Thousands of protesters gathered in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday for a rally to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Najib Razak, bringing to the streets a political crisis over a murky multi-million-dollar payment made to an account under his name.

The Malaysian leader has weathered weeks of attacks since it was reported that investigators probing the management of debt-laden state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) had discovered the unexplained transfer of more than $600 million.

Protesters hope to spark a people’s power movement forcing Najib out, but political analysts doubt he will be toppled.

Security was tight and access to a square where protesters were planning to converge was blocked, with several anti-riot trucks and a water cannon parked nearby.

The Malaysiakini news portal said 50,000 people had gathered by mid-afternoon but police put the crowd at half that number.

The mood was festive as protesters carrying “Out, Najib, Out” placards honked plastic horns and shouted “bersih!”, a Malay word for “clean”. Bersih is also the name of the pro-democracy organization behind the two-day rally in Kuala Lumpur and the two main cities on Malaysia’s side of Borneo.

“We the Malaysians want to clean up this country, we reject dirty politics,” said Tinagar Veranogan, a demonstrator in a crowd of predominantly young people who were mostly from the ethnic Indian and Chinese minority communities.

The Star daily said on Thursday the army could intervene if the protest gets out of hand and a state of emergency is declared. A military spokesman declined to comment.

City authorities rejected an application by Bersih for a protest permit, raising fears of a repeat of a 2012 rally when police used water cannon and teargas to disperse protesters.

The government has blocked access to Bersih’s website and banned wearing of its signature yellow T-shirts, although the swelling crowd was a sea of yellow.

“For 58 years people have been patient with bribes, a political system that cannot resolve 1MDB,” Bersih leader Maria Chin told protesters. “Today we say we want reformation.”

“HUGE FRUSTRATIONS”

Amnesty International urged Malaysia’s government to listen to the protesters instead of trying to suppress them.

“There are huge frustrations with a number of endemic rights issues in Malaysia at the moment – the crackdown on freedom of expression by the government must end,” Josef Benedict, Amnesty International’s Deputy Campaigns Director, said in a statement.

…more
Sat Aug 29, 2015 – Reuters
Thousands join rally to pile pressure on Malaysia’s PM

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All that is necessary
for the triumph of evil
is for good men
to do nothing.

- Edmund Burke
When the people
fears their government,
there is TYRANNY;
when the government
fears the people,
there is LIBERTY.

- Thomas Jefferson
Do you hear the people sing?

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