Malaysians involved in Bersih protests overseas could face legal action

A supporter of pro-democracy group Bersih looks at his route on a map in Malaysia's capital city of Kuala Lumpur on August 29, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

ROMPIN - Malaysia's Foreign Ministry is to gather information on Malaysians participating in Bersih 4 demonstrations abroad for eventual legal action against them, said Deputy Minister Reezal Merican Naina Merican.

He said the identity of these Malaysians would be handed over to the relevant authorities for action, Bernama news agency reported.

They should not be exempted from legal action because their action could tarnish the image of the country at the international level, he was quoted as saying after opening the Rompin Umno Youth delegates meeting

"It is not that we do not have room for the people to express themselves. Malaysia is not a dictatorship," he added.

Reezal Merican, who is an Umno Supreme Council member, said it was inappropriate for Malaysians to voice their dissatisfaction with the government of Prime Minister Najib Razak overseas, according to Bernama.

"I, too, sometimes, have critical views but I express them through the proper channel and abide by the law. Let's not damage the country and bring suffering to the people.

"Demonstrations in some countries can result in harsh penalties. Freedom of speech must not be seen as absolute freedom to say anything by any way. Are we going to legalise everything in the name of freedom of speech or human rights?" he said.

Reezal Merican said the rally in Kuala Lumpur this week, organised by electoral reform group Bersih, was not fair to the traders in the city as well as visitors, and allowed irresponsible people to tarnish the country's name ,according to Bernama.

He also said that the demonstrators were not patriotic because they had chosen a date close to the National Day celebrations on Aug 31.

"Why didn't they pick another date? We also have the Peaceful Assembly Act. If they really want to gather, there are several stadiums in states governed by the opposition. They should just gather there," he said.

The rally was organised to demand the resignation of the prime minister, who is facing public outrage over an alleged illegal transfer of funds into his personal bank account.

Bersih said its supporters in more than 70 cities worldwide would hold events to show solidarity to the protesters in Kuala Lumpur.

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