PM Najib warns protesters over violence ahead of demonstration

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak warned Thursday violence would not be tolerated at a major anti-government demonstration planned for the weekend.
PHOTO: The Star

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak warned Thursday violence would not be tolerated at a major anti-government demonstration planned for the weekend.

Leading NGO and civil-society alliance Bersih called the rally in the capital to demand the scandal-tainted prime minister's resignation.

Bersih has urged its supporters to converge on Kuala Lumpur in its signature yellow T-shirts on Saturday.

But the "Red Shirts", a rightwing group aligned to Najib and his ruling United Malays National Organisation, has vowed to confront protesters.

Police have warned that tear gas and water cannons could be used.

"You cannot indulge in any kind of physical clash at all," Najib said Thursday, according to the official Bernama news agency.

Thousands take part in Bersih 5 rally in KL

  • Dr Mahathir arrives at Bersih 5.
  • Police standby near Masjid Jamek at 7 am.
  • A Bersih 5 member having her photo taken in front of the police barricade at Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman at 8am.
  • Police line drawn across Jalan Tun Perak at 8am.
  • Police FRU at Jalan Tun Perak at 8am.
  • Part of the Bersih 5 security members having their photo taken in front of the police barricade at Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman at 8am.
  • A Bersih 5 member in a Pikachu costume at the rally.
  • A Bersih 5 member in a Pikachu costume and his group at the rally.
  • Bersih 5 rally at Dataran Maybank, Bangsar.
  • rowd of Bersih 5 rally gathering near Masjid Jamek.
  • LRT coming in from Taman Bahagia side at 9.40 packed with yellow shirts.
  • Donning the yellow Bersih T-shirt for the first time, former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad called on Malaysians to take part in the Bersih 5 rally on Saturday.
  • Maria Chin Abdullah, chairperson of the coalition of Malaysian NGOs and activist groups known as Bersih, that also translates as "clean" in the local Malay language, speaks with journalists in Kuala Lumpur on September 14, 2016.
  • "That is why we need to show our dissatisfaction with the Government by taking part in this demonstration by Bersih in Dataran Merdeka and also at other locations," he said in the video.
  • Dr Mahathir added that he hoped all Malaysians would join the rally as Bersih aimed to find a way to revitalise the country by changing the Government so it would not be ruled by "someone who embezzled so much money" and was being "accused by the whole world".
  • In a video uploaded on Twitter, Dr Mahathir, who banned protests and assemblies during his 22-year tenure as prime minister, said Malaysians needed to show their dissatisfaction through the demonstration.
  • "Malaysia is now in distress because (Prime Minister) Datuk Seri Najib's administration has caused the country to rake up billions of ringgit in debts that are unable to be paid by the Government and the country.
  • In 2015, Dr Mahathir attended Bersih 4.0 with his wife. On Sunday, Dr Mahathir was seen wearing a "free Anwar" badge at the Pakatan Harapan convention in Shah Alam.
  • A convoy of two dozen cars snakes into this sleepy Malaysian town, breaking the rural calm with warnings of corruption and national decay.
  • Maria Chin Abdullah, chair of civil-society alliance Bersih (2nd, R) signing autograph on a banner ahead their demonstration in the capital Kuala Lumpur to demand Najib's resignation in Malaysia's northern town of Ipoh.
  • A member of civil-society alliance Bersih delivering a flyer at ahead their demonstration in the capital Kuala Lumpur to demand Najib's resignation in Malaysia's northern town of Ipoh.
  • Malaysia's leading political protest group announced plans for a seven-week roadshow capped by a November 19 rally in the capital to demand the scandal-tainted prime minister's resignation.
  • Maria Chin Abdullah (L), chair of civil-society alliance Bersih talking during her door-to-door canvassing ahead their demonstration in the capital Kuala Lumpur to demand Najib's resignation in Malaysia's northern town of Ipoh.
  • A group of Bersih supporters have gathered at the Ampitheatre here although the premises was closed by the Kuching North City Commission (DBKU) for restoration works.
  • Dozens of council enforcement officers including plainclothes policemen were seen monitoring the area as the crowd gathered.
  • The main section of the park was also cordoned off with barricade tapes.
  • The group converged at the Ampitheatre from five nearby gathering points at Jalan Badaruddin, civic centre, museum park, Reservoir Park and St Joseph School.
  • Bersih 5 committee is still negotiating with local authorities for another venue for the assembly.
  • Bandar Kuching MP Chong Chieng Jen also showed up at the rally as an observer.

"That's not going to be good for us and that's not the culture that we will want to be accepted as our way of life in Malaysia." Najib, who is currently visiting Japan, added: "If one side wants to protest and the side that wants to protect the government is compelled to come out ... but I don't want any physical clash."

Firebrand Red Shirts leader Jamal Yunos has ominously warned that "anything can happen, including violence".

The Red Shirts are widely dismissed as ruling-party thugs-for-hire who seek to suppress any moves against Najib over a huge graft scandal.

The rally is set to be the culmination of a seven-week Bersih campaign in response to the scandal involving the prime minister and state-owned fund 1MDB.

Najib is clinging to power despite increasingly damaging allegations that he took part in the looting of billions in state funds.

In an almost two-minute video posted online Wednesday, former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who has been campaigning to oust Najib, said the country was "in a state of panic" over the scandal.

Najib denies wrongdoing and says his accusers need to "move on", but last year purged critics and shut down domestic investigations.

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