Malaysia PM Najib brands Bersih supporters traitors

Malaysian protesters gather during a Bersih rally in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on Aug 30, 2015.
Malaysian protesters gather during a Bersih rally in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on Aug 30, 2015. PHOTO: EPA

Prime Minister Najib Razak labelled Bersih supporters as traitors and warned that he would not allow anyone to destroy the country.

Datuk Seri Najib, in a speech televised live on Sunday night to mark Malaysia's National Day today, asked the people to close their eyes and ponder if they truly understood the meaning of Merdeka, or independence.

"Indeed, we will never allow anyone from within or outside the country to simply walk in, steal and destroy all that we have built so far," he told his audience at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre, which included several Cabinet ministers.

 Mr Najib said his government rejected any street demonstrations that serve only to disrupt and cause problems to the public, adding that the two-day Bersih rally in the capital was not appropriate. "As you know, in the past two days what has been going on is extremely inappropriate as it exhibits shallow minds and lack of national spirit," he said.

"We reject any form of street protests as it can threaten public order. It only burdens the people because it does not reflect maturity nor is it the right channel to air views in a democratic country."

Mr Najib brushed aside rumours that Malaysia was heading towards bankruptcy and stressed that the country's economic fundamentals were still strong. "We are not a failed state. In reality, we are stable with strong fundamentals."

 The Prime Minister also said that Malaysians should thank and express their appreciation to enforcement officers who continuously ensure that the country is peaceful and harmonious.

"Let us all record our gratitude and congratulations and give a big round of applause to the armed forces and PDRM (police force)."

Bersih ended its 34-hour rally last night with opposition leaders calling for Mr Najib's resignation on a makeshift stage outside of Merdeka Square.

Mr Najib on July 28 removed critics from his Cabinet and broke up Parliament's Public Accounts Committee (PAC), which was probing alleged financial irregularities at troubled state investor 1Malaysia Development Berhad, linked to the US$700 million (S$986 million) he received, by appointing some PAC members to the Cabinet.

The Prime Minister also removed the Attorney- General who was conducting a separate probe into 1MDB. Bersih announced its rally the very next day.

asruls@sph.com.sg