KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said on Saturday that the organisers and participants of the Bersih 4 rally were "shallow and poor" in terms of patriotism.
He said all Malaysians should mark Independence Day on Aug 31 despite having different political ideologies, Bernama news agency reported.
"We want to celebrate independence but there are some people who want to show their feelings at the historic place in Merdeka Square,'' Najib was quoted as saying.
"Don't they understand. Are they that shallow and poor in their patriotism and love for their motherland? Don't they understand the country was built on the blood and sweat of our freedom fighters?" he said when officiating the Jerantut Umno division delegates' meeting.
Supporters of electoral reform group Bersih were taking to the streets this weekend in Kuala Lumpur, Kuching and Kota Kinabalu to demand Najib's resignation over an alleged illegal transfer of funds into his personal bank account.
In Kuala Lumpur, the rally, which started out from five meeting points, will end near Merdeka Square.
On Friday, the prime minister - making his first comments on the Bersih rally -had criticised the organisers, saying the timing and venue of the protests would clash with Independence Day parade rehearsals.
He said the country's Independence Day should not be an avenue for airing political differences but instead unite Malaysians with a sense of patriotism.
Bersih has spearheaded three mass street rallies since it was formed in 2006.