Tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Kuala Lumpur to try and force Prime Minister Najib Razak out of office. The protests were prompted by what’s being called one of the biggest corruption cases in the country’s history.
According to Reuters, hundreds slept in the streets overnight to engage in a second day of protests. Al Jazeera reports that early on Saturday there were about 50,000 people gathered in designated protest areas wearing yellow T-shirts.
The demonstrators have a simple demand — the end of Najib Razak’s administration.
The Prime Minister allegedly received a mysterious transfer of $600 million to a bank account in his name.
Razak has denied any wrongdoing, but that’s not enough for the thousands gathered in protest.
The demonstrations are being organized by a pro-democracy civil society group called Bersih. In addition to the growing support on the streets, 90-year-old former leader Mahathir Mohamad also made an appearance to denounce the Prime Minister, a man who he used to support.
The movement has been bolstered by Mohamad’s support according to the group’s leader Maria Chin Abdullah.
“It’s a boost for us that he recognizes that corruption is not good for the economy. It’s a show of support for Bersih.”
Bersih’s demonstrations are scheduled to continue into Sunday, according to the Guardian.
The group insists that the scandal is “one of the greatest multi-billion dollar corruption scandals in Malaysia’s history and the government’s most oppressive crackdowns on free speech.”
The government has gone on the offensive against Bersih, calling the demonstrations illegal and blocking the group’s official website. Likewise, they’ve suspended two newspapers and a British-based whistleblower site.
The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission explained that they would block any website that would “promote, spread information and encourage people to join the Bersih 4 demonstration.”
For his part, Prime Minister Najib insisted on his blog he did not want this “provocation” to start in the first place, according to the BBC.
“Whatever the disagreements or misunderstandings between us, National Day should not be a stage of political disputes,” he added.
To appease the protesters, the Najib has fired four ministers, his attorney general and his deputy Prime Minister.
The people are not satisfied.
Still, Maria Chin Abdullah told the Malaysian Insider, “we don’t want to topple the government but we want to topple corrupt politicians.”
The Prime Minister in Malaysia is also under pressure for his poor handling of the economy, which has been hobbled by dropping energy prices.
[Image Credit: Getty Images]