What’s 20,000? Felda settlers alone can top Bersih 4 turnout, Najib say

Participants of the Bersih 4 rally brave the rain as they shout slogans and march in Kuala Lumpur, August 30, 2015. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng
Participants of the Bersih 4 rally brave the rain as they shout slogans and march in Kuala Lumpur, August 30, 2015. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 30 — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak played down today the estimated number of participants at this year’s on-going Bersih 2.0 organised street rallies to show dissent against his administration.

He also hit out at the organisers of Bersih 4, saying they showed no concern for the people’s welfare, especially those living in the countryside, The Star Online reported.

“There might have been 20,000 people at the rally, as reported by some media, but I am sure only 20,000 are a little dissatisfied. The rest of the Malaysian population are with the government,” he was quoted as saying at the national-level Felda Settlers Day celebration in the Gong Badak indoor stadium in Kuala Terengganu on the east coast of peninsular Malaysia.

The prime minister dismissed the number as insignificant, saying those supporting his Barisan Nasional (BN) government numbered in the hundreds of thousands as opposed to the tens of thousands that were reported to have hit the national capital last night.

“What is 20,000, we can gather hundreds of thousands. Felda settlers alone could make the numbers,” he was quoted saying further.

The Star Online also reported Najib promising the farmers that the government will be building more affordable homes costing less than RM70,000 for the second generation Felda settlers soon.

The 24-hour marathon Bersih 4 rally kicked off at 2pm yesterday in three cities nationwide: Kuala Lumpur, Kota Kinabalu in Sabah and Kuching in Sarawak.

Tens of thousands braved the heat and the rain to pressure for institutional reforms to the economy and to the government, though their key demand this round is Najib’s resignation as prime minister over the corruption allegations linking him to his the debt-riddled 1 Malaysia Development Berhad.

Police have estimated the numbers of protesters in Kuala Lumpur yesterday at 25,000, and 4,500 more in Kuching and Kota Kinabalu respectively.

Bersih 2.0 chairman Maria Chin Abdullah however is hopeful the crowd will grow bigger and cross 300,000 people even as the countdown to the midnight deadline for the Bersih 4 rally approaches.