Saturday, 21 October, 2017

Malaysia: Protesters Demand Prime Minister's Resignation

Nurul-Izzah Malaysia detains 12 activists ahead of anti-PM rally
Wilma Wheeler | 23 November, 2016, 13:01

Najib, who has denied any wrongdoing, has said he won't be cowed by the rallies.

Najib said he was unfazed by the protest, adding that he would "accept and respect the will of the people only when the general election is called".

Their reason for wanting the leader out of Malaysia's driving seat is simple - Najib and his ilk have been linked to the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) controversy, a massive financial scandal involving billions of dollars worth of state funds.

The protesters demand that Mr. Najib faces charges over allegations of looting his brainchild investment fund, 1MDB.

A pro-government group called Red Shirts also rallied on Saturday, marching from the headquarters of the ruling United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) party towards Independence Square.

"We have security but it's insufficient when faced against gangsters", she said.

The red-shirts began camping at Masjid Negara, one of Bersih's gathering points, but quickly dispersed after police arrested one of their leaders. The 91-year-old once chose Najib as prime minister but now criticizes his former protege's government as corrupt.

He has also made freakish claims against Bersih, including that the coalition had been infiltrated by Islamic State terrorists. He was among several from the two rival groups who were picked up in a pre-rally crackdown.

Malaysiakini surveyed the streets of Kuala Lumpur on the night before the Nov 19 rallies.

Malaysian police estimated there were about 2,500 Red Shirt activists who turned up in the capital on Saturday.

"It is clear that these street protests are in fact the opposition disguised as an independent NGO working to unseat a democratically elected government", the leader told reporters in Lima.

Another Bersih official, Mandeep Singh, and 12 others including several politicians were also detained, mostly in connection with the rally and to prevent rioting, the police said.

"These bans are unlikely to stop activists from holding street rallies but will discourage participation from the larger population fearing police action", the Eurasia Group consultancy said in a note.

This it the fifth protest organized by Bersih - whose name means "clean" in Malay - since its inception in 2010.

The conviction of Rafizi Ramli was slammed by human rights groups who said Malaysians have a right to know about corruption.

Top Bersih and opposition figures addressed the crowd, stressing the need to continue fighting PM Najib's rule until a national election due in August 2018 but expected as soon as next year.

Najib's administration has cracked down on the media and civil society in an attempt to silence criticism over his involvement in a money-laundering scandal at 1MDB.

The U.S. government complaints also said more than $700 million had landed in the accounts of "Malaysian Official 1".

A Malaysian Cabinet official has since admitted that individual was Najib. 1MDB is at the center of investigations in the USA and several other countries.

Founded by Najib, who chaired its advisory board, 1MDB is now the subject of investigations in at least six countries, including Switzerland, Singapore and the United States.


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