Malaysia group Bersih vows to go ahead with anti-govt rally in KL despite rejection of permit

A huge crowd walking to the outskirts of Dataran Merdeka in Kuala Lumpur on April 28, 2012, for the Bersih 3.0 rally.
A huge crowd walking to the outskirts of Dataran Merdeka in Kuala Lumpur on April 28, 2012, for the Bersih 3.0 rally. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - A Malaysian pro-democracy group vowed to go ahead with a rally later this month demanding the prime minister's resignation, setting the stage for a showdown with the authorities after the group's application for a protest permit was rejected.

Kuala Lumpur City Hall suggested the civil society group Bersih delay the rally as official celebrations for Independence Day were scheduled for Aug 31 at the same venue, according to news portal The Malaysian Insider.

Mayor Amin Nordin Abdul Aziz was not available for comment.

Bersih said the demonstration would take place in Kuala Lumpur from Aug 29 to Aug 30. "We have lost confidence in the present leadership and therefore the prime minister must resign and give way to reform," said Ms Maria Chin Abdullah, chief of Bersih.

At the centre of the political row is troubled state investment fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB). With debts of over US$11 billion, 1MDB is being investigated over allegations of graft and financial mismanagement. Prime Minister Najib Razak sits as the chair of its advisory board.

Datuk Seri Najib has reined in dissent within his party and government by sacking his deputy and replacing the attorney-general amid a probe into 1MDB.

The authorities are also clamping down on public dissent. The government suspended two newspapers and a website reporting on 1MDB, and this week said it was seeking help from social media and Internet companies to "curb" content for public safety.