KUALA LUMPUR - More than 2,000 protesters braved Kuala Lumpur's scorching heat on Saturday afternoon (April 2) to call for the abolition of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and Prime Minister Najib Razak's resignation over graft allegations.
They began gathering from 2pm and stayed for over three hours before long-serving former premier Mahathir Mohamad arrived to continue his campaign against Datuk Seri Najib.
The demonstrators marched to the historic Merdeka Square from various points in the capital, led by opposition figures including Amanah president Mohamad Sabu, whose chants of "Abolish GST", "Najib resign" and "Arrest Najib" were echoed by the crowd.
The protesters, who claim the public are being burdened with the tax to cover corruption and wastefulness by the government, are barred from entering the square as authorities cordoned it off with steel barriers due to another event being held there tonight.
"How much longer must Malaysians bear this abuse?" said parliamentary opposition leader Wan Azizah Wan Ismail to a crowd largely dressed in black.
Dr Mahathir pleaded with the crowd to join other prominent signatories of the so-called "Citizens' Declaration" which he mooted last month. The document calling for Mr Najib's removal has been supported across the opposition and civil society, as well as ruling establishment figures, including Umno deputy president Muhyiddin Yassin, who has been suspended from his position following his criticism of the premier.
"I hope this rally is not in vain, but will have an impact in influencing the thoughts of the public towards the extraordinary administration by Najib that oppresses the people in various ways," Dr Mahathir said in a short speech to close the rally.
Other opposition figures also attacked Mr Najib's alleged receipt and use of up to US$1 billion (S$1.35 billion) deposited into his personal accounts since he came into power.
The Prime Minister has claimed that at least US$681 million were political donations from the Saudi Royal Family, and that he has never used public funds for personal purposes.