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Speaking in a public address to mark Malaysia’s National Day, PM Najib Razak said he refuses to resign after mass protests, calling for national unity.

Tens of thousands of people took to the streets at the weekend, urging the prime minister to step down over allegations he took hundreds of millions of dollars of public funds.

Najib Razak said such protests were “not the proper channel to voice opinions in a democratic country”.

He has denied pocketing $700 million of public money.

The payments, first revealed by the Wall Street Journal, came from the 1MDB state investment fund, which Najib Razak set up on coming into office in 2009.

Najib Razak has removed several leading officials who had criticized his handling of the scandal.

Malaysia’s anti-corruption agency has effectively cleared the prime minister, saying the money was from foreign donors.

Police says about 25,000 people took part in the two-day demonstration at their peak, though Bersih [Clean] – the pro-democracy group behind the rallies – put the figure at 300,000.

During his National Day speech, Najib Razak said it was clear the rest of Malaysia backed the government.

“We will never allow anyone from within or from outside, [to] simply walk in and steal, ruin or destroy all that we have built so far,” the state news agency Bernama quoted the prime minister as saying.

Photo AP

Photo AP

“Let us all remember, if we are not united, lose our solidarity and cohesion, all problems will not be resolved, and everything we have laboriously built will be destroyed just like that.”

Najib Razak said protests which “disrupt public order and only inconvenience the people” did not reflect maturity and were “not the proper channel to voice opinions in a democratic country”.

His coalition, Barisan Nasional, has governed Malaysia since independence 58 years ago.

However, the coalition’s support has declined in recent elections, and its critics have accused it of arrogance.

The movement against Najib Razak has been driven by influential former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed who was also at the rally in Kuala Lumpur on August 30.

Mahathir Mohamed, who led Malaysia from 1981 to 2003 and was formerly a Najib razak ally, said it was untenable for him to continue in his position.

“There’s no more rule of law. The only way for the people to get back to the old system is for them to remove this prime minister,” he said.

“We must remove this prime minister.”

The rally in Kuala Lumpur was deemed illegal, but was allowed to go ahead, and ended peacefully late on Sunday.

Previous rallies held by the Bersih movement have been dispersed by police using tear gas and water cannon.


A mass protest are being held in Malaysia’s capital Kuala Lumpur and elsewhere with protesters calling for PM Najib Razak to step down over a financial scandal.

Protesters are angered by a $700 million payment made to his bank account from unnamed foreign donors.

It was discovered last month during a probe into alleged mismanagement at the debt-laden state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

PM Najib Razak has denied any wrongdoing.

The pro-democracy group Bersih has also called for protests in the cities of Kota Kinabalu and Kuching on the Malaysian side of Borneo.

Kuala Lumpur authorities have rejected the group’s application for a permit to protest and Malaysian police have declared the rallies illegal.

Security is tight and access to Kuala Lumpur’s Independence Square has been blocked. Eyes will be focused on any possible army intervention.

At the last big rally in 2012, police used water cannon and tear gas to disperse protesters.

Photo Reuters

Photo Reuters

Estimates put the number of protesters in Kuala Lumpur at 50,000 to 80,000, though figures issued by the police suggested much lower numbers.

A carnival atmosphere, punctuated by music, vuvuzelas and political speeches, prevailed in the city centre.

The leader of Bersih, Maria Chin, said the protest was not anti-government.

“We don’t want to topple the government but we want to topple corrupt politicians,” she told the Malaysian Insider.

The demonstrations coincide with preparations for National Day on August 31 – the former British colony’s 58th anniversary of self-rule.

Najib Razak said on his blog he did not want a “provocation” to be triggered.

He said: “Whatever the disagreements or misunderstandings between us, National Day should not be a stage of political disputes.”

The main accusation against Najib Razak is that he took $700 million from the indebted 1MDB, which he established in 2009 to try to turn Kuala Lumpur into a financial hub.

Cabinet ministers have said the money transfers were “political donations” from unidentified Middle Eastern sources, and that there was nothing improper. No further details have been given.

1MDB has said it has never given money to Najib Razak and called the accusations “unsubstantiated”.

Najib Razak retains significant support from the long-ruling Barisan Nasional coalition and from within his party, the United Malays National Organization.