Malaysian PM justifies crackdown on reform protest
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Last Updated: Saturday, August 13, 2011, 20:15
Kuala Lumpur: Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has justified a crackdown on a protest last month for electoral reforms in the country, saying street demonstrations could turn violent and end up in riots.

The government's actions then was to avoid serious untoward incidences such as attacks on people and burning of shops, Razak said.

The gathering of more than five persons in a public place to hold a rally needs permission of police in this country.

Thousands of people had started marching towards the city centre on July 9 to take part in a protest rally by NGO Bersih 2 but they were stopped by police manning the streets.

The government had said a rally on the streets would be illegal and had asked the organisers to hold it inside a stadium.

However, Bersih said that it was not given permission in the stadium it wanted to hold it in.

Najib said in a street protest, there was always a possibility that the situation could spiral out of control as some parties with bad intentions might take advantage of the situation.

Speaking after chairing the ruling coalition Barisan Nasional supreme council meeting here yesterday, he also regretted that the government's offer to hold the rally in the suburb of Shah Alam stadium was not taken up by the Bersih rally organisers.

"That offer of a stadium was never withdrawn. We took that decision to avoid any bad incidents."

Thanking the police, he said their actions during the rally ensured no property was damaged. Najib also gave his assurance on the government's commitment towards free and fair elections and that it was not a goal that was monopolised by any particular party.

"We will be discussing with the Election Commission on these issues and other parties can also do likewise."


First Published: Saturday, August 13, 2011, 20:15

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