KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 29 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad turned up at the Bersih 4 rally here today that saw tens of thousands demonstrating for Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s resignation.
The former prime minister was accompanied by his wife, Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohamad Ali, near Dataran Merdeka as people crowded around his car and jostled to have a look at him.
“I just came to see,” Dr Mahathir told Malay Mail Online.
Several protesters told Malay Mail Online that Dr Mahathir’s presence at the rally organised by polls reform group Bersih 2.0 boosted their morale.
“It’s good that Mahathir is here show support to Bersih, morale boosting yes,” said Chee Wei, 40, who came from Sarawak. “Believe it will galvanise the movement more”.
Azman, 49, who came from Johor Baru and was staying the night with three friends, said that it was Najib that Malaysians disliked and that even if Dr Mahathir was not liked, they had a common goal, which was for Najib to step down.
“We will have to unite for that,” said Azman, who did not give his full name.
Veronica Malikadass, who is in her 50s, noted that Dr Mahathir, who is the country’s longest serving prime minister, still carried weight.
“He’s so influential, especially among the Malays,” she said.
Dr Mahathir has been pushing openly for Najib’s resignation, citing the controversy surrounding the debt-laden state investment firm, 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
Despite the government banning websites on Bersih 4 and yellow Bersih 4 T-shirts, the police did not crack down on the demonstrations in the city centre here, nor in Kuching, Sarawak, or Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.
Thousands demonstrated at the Bersih 4 rallies in East Malaysia, with many protesters staying overnight on the streets there and in Kuala Lumpur.
Melissa Chi, Mayuri Mei Lin and Syed Jaymal Zahiid contributed to this report.