Kuala Lumpur: Thousands of people took to the streets in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday demanding the resignation of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, hit by allegations of involvement in a huge corruption scandal.
The protest was organised by Bersih, the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections, which said at least 200,000 people will participate in the marches at five points of the capital city, before converging at one of the main city squares, Efe news reported.
This it the fifth protest organised by Bersih – whose name means ‘clean’ in Malay – since its inception in 2010.
The group consists of an alliance of organisations fighting for electoral law reforms to ensure elections in the country are free and fair.
Authorities deployed around 7,000 police personnel across the protest route to prevent violent clashes between the protesters and the “red-shirts”, supporters of the pro-government National Front, who had also called for a march to counter the Bersih demonstration.
The protest comes a day after 10 Bersih leaders – including its head Maria Chin Abdullah and secretariat member Mandeep Singh – were arrested, as alleged by the group on social media.
Meanwhile, speaking from Japan on Thursday, Najib said he would not give in to pressure from the group or tolerate any violent turn to the protest.
The premier has been accused of involvement in a corruption scandal, with media reports alleging that around one billion dollars were diverted from state investment fund 1MDB into his personal bank accounts.
1MDB, created by Najib in 2009 after he became prime minister, had accumulated a debt of more than $11 billion by 2014.
The premier has repeatedly denied the allegations, saying the money was a donation from the Saudi royal family, and he was absolved of all charges by the public prosecutor in January.