Sat, Aug 29, 2015 - Page 6 News List

Malaysia blocks protest Web site

‘DISRESPECTFUL’:The embattled prime minister criticized organizers of a weekend rally for holding a protest so close to National Day celebrations

Reuters, KUALA LUMPUR

A Royal Malaysian policewoman, center, adjusts her helmet during rehearsals yesterday for the National Day celebrations at Independence Square in Kuala Lumpur.

Photo: AFP

Malaysian authorities have blocked access to the Web site of a civil group that called for massive anti-government demonstrations this weekend, while a domestic news portal said the military could intervene if the protests get out of hand.

Pro-democracy group Bersih is demanding the resignation of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak over allegations of graft and financial mismanagement at debt-laden state fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) and a multimillion-dollar donation made into his personal account.

Bersih, Malaysia’s leading alliance of independent non-governmental organizations, rights groups and reform advocates, vows to bring out tens of thousands of people in the capital, Kuala Lumpur, and two other cities today and tomorrow.

Its Web page, www.bersih.org, was not accessible in Malaysia yesterday, a day after the government said it would block sites that spread information and encourage people to join the rally.

Malaysian 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 that armed forces would intervene if the government declared a state of emergency during the rally. A military spokesman declined to comment on the report.

Security will be beefed up in Kuala Lumpur and many roads will be closed as thousands of yellow-shirted protesters gather at five sites today and prepare to converge in a central area.

Najib yesterday criticized the rally organizers for holding the protest so close to independence day celebrations on Monday.

“If you want to gather and demonstrate, do not trigger a provocation,” Najib said in a statement posted on his blog.

“Whatever the disagreements or misunderstandings between us, National Day should not be a stage of political disputes.”

The former British colony will be celebrating its 58th anniversary of self-rule on Monday with a parade at a historic field in the capital called Independence Square, with rehearsals taking place this weekend.

In his first remarks over the protests, Najib also implied that the clash in timing and the venue of the protests would be disrespectful to Malaysia’s national heroes who had fought for independence.

Najib has been embroiled in a political storm amid allegations of graft and financial mismanagement at 1MDB, which is US$11 billion in debt, and whose advisory board he chairs.

Last month, the Wall Street Journal reported that investigators looking into 1MDB found that nearly US$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 any wrongdoing.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top