Bersih plans November rally calling for PM Najib to quit

Bersih, Malaysia's most prominent political pressure group, will hold a rally in November to protest against Prime Minister Najib Razak (above).
Bersih, Malaysia's most prominent political pressure group, will hold a rally in November to protest against Prime Minister Najib Razak (above).PHOTO: AFP

KUALA LUMPUR • A Malaysian group that has staged huge political demonstrations in the past will hold another one in November to protest against Prime Minister Najib Razak and demand his resignation, its chairman said yesterday.

A date for the rally will be announced on Sept 14, said Ms Maria Chin Abdullah, chairman of the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections.

The alliance of non-governmental organisations and civil society groups known as "Bersih", the Malay word for "clean", is the country's most prominent political pressure group and previous rallies have ended with demonstrators clashing with the police.

"We will definitely have Bersih 5 in November," news website Malaysiakini quoted her as saying.

She declined to give details, saying more information would emerge next week.

Bersih was first formed to press for reform of Malaysia's electoral system, which critics say is biased in favour of the long-ruling coalition government, but has increasingly taken up other issues as well.

Last year, it drew tens of thousands of people to peaceful demonstrations in Kuala Lumpur and other locations to demand Datuk Seri Najib's removal over his alleged involvement in the looting of billions of dollars in state funds, shutting down the capital for two days. Mr Najib has so far fended off mounting calls to answer allegations that billions were looted from sovereign wealth fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), denying any wrongdoing.

But the US Justice Department filed lawsuits in July alleging a conspiracy to steal billions from 1MDB. The suits described how "Malaysian Official 1", family members, and close associates diverted billions from the fund.

Last week, a senior Malaysian Cabinet minister confirmed the widely held belief that Mr Najib is "Malaysian Official 1".

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 08, 2016, with the headline 'Bersih plans November rally calling for PM Najib to quit'. Print Edition | Subscribe