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Malaysia's Prime Minister Vows Not to Step Down

August 31, 2015

by VOA News

Malaysia's government staked its claim to the capital's streets Monday after a two-day demonstration calling for the ouster of Prime Minister Najib Razak.

Najib joined thousands of spectators Monday in Kuala Lumpur for the parade of police, soldiers and civil servants

The prime minister, who is facing serious fraud allegations, has vowed not to step down from office and admonished the protesters for their "shallow mind and poor national spirit."

Protest organizers say over 200,000 people came out Saturday and Sunday to demand Najib's resignation. However, police say the protest crowd was well under 30,000 people.

Officials estimate some 13,000 people turned out for Monday's celebrations.

Documents leaked to the media in July indicated the prime minister had received $700 million into his personal accounts from the government-owned 1MDB investment fund.

Najib has denied the allegations, saying the money was a gift from the Middle East. He has suggested that the corruption allegations are part of a "political sabotage" against Malaysia's longtime ruling coalition.

The investigation has raised the prospect of criminal charges being filed against Najib, something that has never happened to a Malaysian prime minister.

The prime minister fired the attorney general who investigated him.

The allegations surfaced last month in The Wall Street Journal, which based its story on leaked documents from a government investigation into the 1MDB fund.

1MDB, which is chaired by Najib, faces accusations of corruption and mismanagement, and is over $11 billion in debt. It is under investigation by several government agencies.

Former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who is 90 years old and has spearheaded calls for Najib's resignation, made a brief appearance at the rally Saturday.

Demonstrators wearing the yellow shirts of Bersih, the country's leading civil society organization, camped overnight on the streets of Kuala Lumpur near Independence Square. The massive turnout happened despite the government blocking access to Bersih's website and declaring the demonstration illegal because the activists did not have permission to stage a rally on the site. Authorities also banned the wearing of Bersih's traditional yellow attire and the group's logo, a measure the protesters roundly ignored.

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