Malaysians begin protest against embattled premier
Malaysians have taken to the streets calling for electoral reforms in the Southeast Asian country and the resignation of Prime Minister Najib Razak over a graft scandal.
Thousands of people flocked into central Kuala Lumpur on Saturday, many of them wearing yellow T-shirts of the civil-society movement Bersih, which is pushing for a thorough overhaul of the electoral process in Malaysia.
Saturday’s rally, which was declared illegal by police, is also expected to continue into Sunday.
Bersih, which consists of 84 non-government organizations, has also called for similar protests in the Malaysian cities of Kota Kinabalu and Kuching.
The movement’s most recent demonstration in 2012 ended in clashes as police used water cannon and tear gas to disperse protesters.
Jose Ugaz, the chair of Transparency International, a global anti-corruption movement, said in a statement on Saturday, “The government of Malaysia should listen to the concerns of its people.”
Sheila Devaraj, a 58-year-old retired school teacher, who took part in the protest rally, also said the march meant to show that “a lot of people don’t want” the Malaysian premier, adding, “The (Najib) scandal is an insult that adds to all our sufferings.”
A report published in The Wall Street Journal back in July revealed that Malaysian investigators had traced almost USD 700 million of deposits into Najib’s personal bank accounts.
The revelation came during a probe into alleged mismanagement at 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), a government-owned strategic investment company.