Najib's government reclaims streets
MALAYSIA'S government reclaimed the streets of the capital yesterday after massive weekend protests demanding the premier's ouster, staging its own show of force with National Day celebrations attended by thousands.
With Prime Minister Najib Razak presiding, masses of flag-waving spectators cheered a colourful parade of soldiers, police and civil servants through the city centre, symbolically underlining the government's clout despite pressure for change, Agence France-Presse reported.
Former premier Mahathir Mohamad was visibly absent from the National Day celebration yesterday after generating controversy in attending the two-day Bersih rally, The Star reported.
Organisers of the peaceful weekend demonstrations said about 500,000 people came out to demand the embattled Mr Najib's removal over a financial scandal.
Dr Mahathir, who calls Mr Najib corrupt and a poor leader and has pressed for his ouster for more than a year, caused a stir by attending the rally on Saturday and Sunday. The 90-year-old evoked the 1986 Philippine "people power" revolt in calling for Mr Najib to be toppled.
But the chances of such a revolt in Malaysia are remote.
Mr Najib retains firm control of the powerful ruling party, the United Malays National Organisation, and its coalition government enjoys solid support among the Muslim ethnic Malays who make up more than 60 per cent of the population.
"Mr Najib can rest easy because the only way anyone could remove him is through Parliament or the ruling party," said Ibrahim Suffian, head of leading Malaysian polling firm Merdeka Centre.