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 last 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, 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.
MALAYSIAN ECONOMY STABLE
We are not a failed state. In reality, we are stable with strong fundamentals.
PRIME MINISTER NAJIB RAZAK
"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.
"We are not a failed state. In reality, we are stable with strong fundamentals," he said.
Mr Najib on July 28 removed critics from his Cabinet, including his deputy and broke up Parliament's Public Accounts Committee (PAC) by appointing some of its members to the Cabinet. The PAC was probing alleged financial irregularities at troubled state investor 1Malaysia Development Berhad, linked to the US$700 million (S$986 million) Mr Najib received. He also removed the Attorney-General, who was conducting a separate 1MDB probe.
Former deputy premier Muhyiddin Yassin noted in his Merdeka message that the people's trust in the government has eroded and those who criticise leaders are called traitors and accused of wanting to topple the government.
"I am worried that as long as this major leadership crisis is not resolved, the country and government will continue to be weighed down by severe trust deficit problems that are worsening," he said.
"For me, the issue of trust can be resolved if the country returns to the path of leadership with integrity, accountability and responsibility to the rakyat (people)," he added.