Malaysia police release anti-PM protest leader
Malaysian police yesterday freed the head of a pro-democracy group which organized a mass rally calling on Prime Minister Najib Razak to resign over a massive corruption scandal. Maria Chin Abdullah, chair of the pro-reform NGO alliance “Bersih”, was detained on November 18 on the eve of the rally and kept in solitary confinement. Her arrest under a law designed to combat terrorism sparked international criticism including from the US State Department. Despite her arrest, some 20,000 Malaysians clad in the yellow of the reformist Bersih campaign flooded Kuala Lumpur for the second time in 15 months. They were venting anger over allegations that billions of dollars were stolen from state investment fund 1MDB, Najib’s brainchild. “Chin has been freed. She is cheerful,” her lawyer Gurdial Singh Nijar said. “The police freed her because they have no grounds for her detention.” Chin could not be reached for comment but was expected to address her supporters at Independence Square. They have been holding nightly vigils demanding her freedom.