Malaysians in Auckland risk travel ban if they attend 'Bersih' anti-government rally

By Lincoln Tan

Hundred are calling for the resignations of Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak. Photo / Bloomberg photo by Goh Seng Chong
Hundred are calling for the resignations of Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak. Photo / Bloomberg photo by Goh Seng Chong

Hundreds of Malaysians will risk being banned from travelling by their Government to
attend a rally in Auckland next month calling for the resignation of their prime minister.

The mass rally at Aotea Square on November 19 is organised by Malaysian pro-democracy group Bersih as part of a global protest aimed at pushing its government for accountability and reform.

Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak is also embroiled in a corruption scandal after hundreds of millions of dollars appeared in his personal bank account, but he has denied any wrong doing.

Malaysians living overseas have been warned that they could be barred from travelling for three years upon their return if they discredit or ridiculed the government in any way.

But rally organiser Lydia Chai, 36, who has been living in Auckland since 2001, expected about 1000 to turn up for the rally - similar to the number that attended last year's protest.

The rally will be the fifth to be organised by Bersih, which means "clean" in Malay.

"The government has tried to bully us into keeping silent, but many Malaysians are now sick of the threats and are realising keeping quiet is not going to change anything," Chai said.

"I decided quite recently that I can't be afraid anymore, it is my right to speak and if I see my Government doing something wrong then I'm going to stand up for what's right."

She said the rally was to demand for free elections, clean government and for the prime minister to step down.

"I will not be bullied and I'm not afraid of their threats," Chai added.

Malaysian media reported this week that the leader of a pro-government "red shirt" movement Jamal Md Yunos is accusing the Bersih movement of having links to the Islamic State militant group.

A 22-page document on the matter had been submitted by Jamal to the Malaysian police, the Star reported.

Chai, who is also treasurer for the Global Bersih steering committee, said the claims were "baseless" and aimed at discouraging people from attending the November rally.

Auckland Malaysian Society president Francis Chai said he would not be attending the protest and the society's rules prevented him from making any comments.

Last year, Malaysians in Auckland also protested in solidarity with the tens of thousands who had taken to the streets of Kuala Lumpur for the same reason.

- NZ Herald

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