Malaysians protest government plan to block websites

Websites spreading information about anti-government protests will be blocked in Malaysia

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Bersih rally in 2012

Malaysia says it will block some websites spreading information on the two-day rally that's to take place in three different cities over the weekend. The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) said that websites that “encourage people to participate” in protests would be blocked.

A civil society group Bersih is organising protests, calling for Prime Minister Najib Razak to resign due to corruption allegations. MCMC said earlier that Bersih spred anti-government propaganda that damaged the country’s image, security and economic stability.

The corruption allegation, which Najib denies, is that he received $700 million from a wealth fund, 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB). Najib explained that he accepted money for a political donation in his personal account from a foreign donor.

Najib Razak started the 1Malaysia Development Berhad state investment fund to develop the country’s economy in 2009.

Bersih was planning to carry out protests from Saturday afternoon to the end of the Sunday evening, the eve of Malaysia’s Independence Day, in Kuala Lumpur and in two Borneo cities of Kota Kinabalu and Kuching.

The Kuala Lumpur authorities did not accept Bersih’s demand for holding rally in the city and set up a barrier with security forces to avoid protesters gathering at five venues.

Police use water cannon and tear gas in 2012 Bersih rally

Previous anti-government Bersih rallies witnessed heavy clashes between protesters and police. The police used water cannons and tear gas to disperse protesters in the last Bersih’s rally in 2012.

In the past three Bersih rallies, the public was inspired by opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, convicted on sodomy charges earlier in 2015.

Eurasia Group consultancy said "the upcoming rally will have no inspiring leader who can connect with the Malay masses, with rebel icon Anwar Ibrahim now imprisoned and his People's Justice Party struggling to find a new leader who can unite different factions."

The group reported on Wednesday that thousands would join the rallies and violence and mass arrests would be likely due to security measures and pro-government protesters. However the protests would not collapse the government and affect broad public support because of lack of credible leadership.

TRTWorld and agencies