Former Malaysia PM Mahathir's visit to Bersih rally is disappointing, says minister

Former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad attending a rally organised by pro-democracy group Bersih in Kuala Lumpur, on Aug 29, 2015.
Former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad attending a rally organised by pro-democracy group Bersih in Kuala Lumpur, on Aug 29, 2015. PHOTO: REUTERS

SABAK BERNAM (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad's presence at the Bersih 4 rally is disappointing and suggests that the former premier has changed his stance and now agrees with street protests, said Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Minister Salleh Said Keruak.

"For me, Tun Dr Mahathir's presence at the rally shows that he agrees with Bersih and what they do. That encourages people to participate in street demonstrations.

"It means that he has changed his stance," Datuk Seri Salleh said when met after opening the Sungai Besar Umno division meeting here on Sunday.

Mr Sallah said that in 1998, when there were protests over former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim's sacking, Dr Mahathir had labelled street demonstrations as foreign to Malaysia.

On Saturday evening, Tun Mahathir and his wife Tun Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali joined Bersih 4 participants at Dataran Merdeka.

They made a surprise visit at about 7.30pm and were greeted by hundreds of the protesters.

Separately, Prime Minister Najib Razak said the organisers of Bersih 4 are not concerned about the people's welfare, especially the people in rural areas.

"There might have been 20,000 people at the rally, as reported by some media, but I am sure only 20,000 are a little dissatisfied. The rest of the Malaysian population are with the government," he said before launching the 2015 national-level Felda Settlers Day celebration at the Gong Badak indoor stadium in Kuala Terengganu on Sunday.

Datuk Seri Najib said it was not a big deal to gather supporters.

"What is 20,000, we can gather hundreds of thousands. Felda settlers alone could make the numbers," he said.