Malaysia

Demonstrate but do not ‘lose your senses’, Najib tells Malaysians

By Clara Chooi
May 06, 2012

Demonstrators during Bersih 3.0 had displayed a rare defiance towards the police. — Reuters picDemonstrators during Bersih 3.0 had displayed a rare defiance towards the police. — Reuters picROMPIN, May 6 — Datuk Seri Najib Razak reassured Malaysians tonight of their right to demonstrate but reminded them to do so with restraint and not “go wild”.

The prime minister also expressed disappointment with some Bersih 3.0 participants, who turned unruly during the event last Saturday by refusing to heed police orders and allegedly attacking them.

“We have no objections if you want to hold a peaceful demonstration, we practise open democracy; everyone has rights, including the opposition, but the country’s laws must be respected.

“But do it peacefully, like civilised people, not go wild and jump around as though you have lost your senses,” he was quoted as saying tonight by the national news agency.

Najib was addressing some 10,000 people during the “Evening with the Prime Minister” event at Dataran Rompin here, according to Bernama Online.

The prime minister also alleged that the allegations against the police were aimed at tarnishing the image of the force through the international media.

“We told them to hold the rally in a stadium, but they wanted to bring the participants to the streets.

“Maybe they were unhappy that, if held in the stadium, foreign media like Al-Jazeera, CNN and BBC would not be interested,” he was quoted as saying.

Most foreign media reports on last weekend’s Bersih 3.0 have been critical of the Najib administration, claiming that the authorities had used excessive force to disperse an otherwise peaceful event.

Tens of thousands of Malaysians crowded the streets of the capital last Saturday to demand for free and fair elections, an event that was said to have placed Najib and his government under intense international scrutiny.

It had taken the Barisan Nasional-led (BN) government nearly a year to recover from the backlash from last year’s event, which saw clashes between riot police and thousands of Malaysians.

This year’s rally had ended up in much the same way, but rally-goers this time appeared more defiant than in previous outings, with large pockets of protesters refusing to disperse even after the event was declared closed.

This has resulted in finger-pointing between Bersih supporters and government leaders, with both parties blaming each other for the violence.