Ber­sih rally adds twist to Na­jib’s woes


The overnight rally planned by elec­toral re­forms ac­tivist group Ber­sih to be­gin this af­ter­noon in Kuala Lumpur will un­doubt­edly see tens of thou­sands de­scend­ing on the streets of the cap­i­tal, in what has be­come a protest against Prime Min­is­ter Na­jib Razak.

The size of the crowd will de­ter­mine the amount of added pres­sure on the em­bat­tled Malaysian leader, who is al­ready fight­ing on sev­eral po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic fronts af­ter be­com­ing em­broiled in a con­tro­versy over US$700 mil­lion de­posited into his per­sonal ac­counts. The city ad­min­is­tra­tion and po­lice have been in­con­sis­tent in their han­dling of the im­pend­ing rally — on the one hand claim­ing that it is illegal but, on the other, say­ing that they hope to fa­cil­i­tate a peace­ful event that will not end up with vol­leys of tear gas and wa­ter cannon as seen in three pre­vi­ous Ber­sih ral­lies. But In­ter­net reg­u­la­tors have al­ready blocked Ber­sih’s web­site, and the Ed­u­ca­tion Min­istry is bar­ring teach­ers from at­tend­ing the gath­er­ing that Ber­sih plans to con­clude on the stroke of mid­night of Aug. 31. An ini­tial sur­vey has shown that less than a quar­ter of Malays sup­port the rally. Should this play out on the ground, Na­jib and his al­lies may see a clam­p­down as strength­en­ing their po­si­tion within the rul­ing Umno . This is an abridged ver­sion of an ar­ti­cle pub­lished on Aug. 29.

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