PETALING JAYA - Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has questioned the timing of the Bersih 4 rally, which is being held so close to the Merdeka Day celebrations.
In a posting on his website najibrazak.com, he said the anniversary of the country's independence should be a day when people should set aside their differences and celebrate together.
He did not mention Bersih 4 in his post but said it was common knowledge that a demonstration had been planned for the same time and venue of the Merdeka Day parade preparations.
"Even if you want to gather, choose a time and place that does not spark a provocation.
"Whatever the differences of opinions or beliefs between us, the National Day should not be made into a stage for political conflict," Najib wrote.
He urged all Malaysians to realise that there were many people who had the right to be recognised in conjunction with the celebration.
These include the nation's heroes who had fought for independence, educators, and those working hard to prepare for the event.
"Is it appropriate that a rally be held at a time and venue so close to our independence anniversary?
"Think about it," the Prime Minister wrote.
Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Tan Sri Joseph Kurup said street protests were contrary to Malaysia's culture.
Urging the people to steer clear from today's Bersih 4.0 rally, he said the peace and harmony that existed in Malaysia could "disappear in the blink of an eye" if irresponsible individuals were allowed to hold street demonstrations.
Kurup, who is in charge of national unity, said Merdeka month was a time for Malaysians to express their allegiance and love for the country.
"We as citizens of our great nation should be grateful and proud of the racial harmony that we enjoy today," he said in a statement.
Kurup said forging unity in multi-racial Malaysia was no easy task and was the collective responsibility of all Malaysians.
"It's a continuous effort since the country gained independence. It will continue to be a struggle that will be passed down from generation to generation," he said.
Instead of taking to the streets, Kurup urged all peace-loving Malaysians to fly the national flag as a sign of solidarity.