Thousands of protesters demand Malaysian PM Najib Razak to quit
Tens of thousands of anti-government protesters marched in Malaysia’s capital Kuala Lumpur on Saturday demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Najib Razak.
The protesters clad in yellow shirts marched from various spots towards the heart of Kuala Lumpur amid tight security. PM Najib, on the other hand, said he will not be cowed by protesters.
The PM has issued a statement in which he called the electoral reformist group – Bersih, which organised the protest – “deceitful” and said the group had become a tool for opposition parties to unseat a democratically elected government.
PM Najib has been under criticism since it was reported that last year around $700 million from state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad was diverted into the personal bank account of the prime minister.
PM Najib is undeterred even after massive protests and consolidated power by cracking down on dissenters and curbing media groups and activists. On Friday, a day before protesters’ march, 11 activists and opposition leaders were arrested and at least two more were detained at the rally. The government has said there could be more arrests in the coming days.
Human rights advocates criticised the arrests, which they said were aimed at suppressing turnout for the rally. This was the fifth consecutive year that Bersih -the electoral reformist group had staged a protest calling for an end to corruption in government. Bersih also organised smaller protests calling for PM Najib’s resignation in cities around the world.
Najib has criticised the Bersih for trying to bring down his government, which he says was fairly and democratically elected. In response, the Bersih deputy chair has said, “We are not here to bring down the country. We love this country! We are not here to tear down the government, we’re here to strengthen it.”