Bersih 5 rally mooted after US DOJ’s 1MDB suit

Bersih 2.0 committee member Maria Chin Abdullah said that Bersih has been consistent in their stand against Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s administration. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng

PUTRAJAYA, July 22 — Bersih 2.0 is considering holding a Bersih 5 public rally here after the US Department of Justice filed a lawsuit seeking to recover more than US$1 billion in assets bought with money allegedly embezzled from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

The polls watchdog chairman Maria Chin Abdullah said today that it is currently in the process of negotiating with civil society and various non-governmental organisations on planning for the public protest, which she said would be best held soon.

“Bersih’s process is that we have to consult the NGOs before we actually make any decision. That is definitely an agenda on the table,” she told a press conference outside the Election Commission’s (EC) headquarters here.

Chin added that Bersih would also not hesitate to work together with former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, but only if he agrees with the reform agenda that they have set up.

“He can join our rally if (he) agrees with our reform. That has still been the consistent stand that Bersih has taken,” she said.

Malay Mail Online understands that Bersih 2.0 had an emergency steering committee meeting yesterday to discuss the next course of action after the Department of Justice’s civil lawsuit became public the day before.

“The chances of Bersih 5 happening is very likely; only thing we need to iron out (is) the details like when and where,” a source close to the organisation said.

Chin meanwhile added that Bersih 2.0 has been consistent in their stand against Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s administration.

“This has been Bersih’s stand since Bersih 4, that Najib has to step down and we want institutional reform to actually happen,” she said.

A source within the group said there were concerns on the timing of the proposed rally, which could clash with elections in Penang if the Pakatan Harapan state government decides to go ahead with snap polls this year.

“There has been a discussion in the date of the rally if it happens. If the Penang snap polls happen, (it) might make things difficult,” said the source who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The US Justice Department filed a civil lawsuit Wednesday seeking the forfeiture and recovery of more than US$1 billion in assets linked to what it described as an “international conspiracy to launder funds misappropriated” from 1MDB, the largest case ever brought by the Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative.

US prosecutors said more than US$3.5 billion (RM14.23 billion) in 1MDB funds were allegedly misappropriated by high-level officials of the local state investment firm and their associates between 2009 and 2015.

The funds allegedly embezzled and laundered into the US were purportedly used to buy luxury properties in New York, Los Angeles and London, paintings by Vincent Van Gogh and Claude Monet, a US$35 million jet, as well as to pay for gambling debts in Las Vegas.

Last August, Bersih 2.0 held a 34-hour mammoth rally in the national capital that saw thousands take to the streets of Kuala Lumpur in support of institutional reforms and a leadership change. – Malay Mail Online

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