08/28/2015, 00.00
MALAYSIA
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Kuala Lumpur blocks websites critical of Prime Minister Najib. Army ready to intervene

Malaysian authorities have blocked access to the site of the Bersih group and others. The activists were planning a demonstration against the government for the weekend. Prime Minister Najib, embroiled in a corruption scandal. The military ready to intervene in case of protests.

Kuala Lumpur (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Malaysian authorities have blocked access to the website of a group of activists who had launched a massive protest campaign for the coming weekend against a corruption scandal that involves the Prime Minister himself. Meanwhile, another Malaysian online news site reports that the military is "ready to act" if the demonstrations in Kuala Lumpur should "get out of hand."

The pro-democracy group Bersih strongly demands the resignation of Prime Minister Najib Razak, who is charged with suspicion of corruption and mismanagement of funds. He is accused of graft and financial mismanagement at state fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB), created by the premier in 2009 when he came to power, and a deposit of several million dollars into his personal account.

According to a survey published in July by the Wall Street Journal about 700 million dollars were deposited in a private account linked to the Prime Minister. According to the anti-graft agency these are "donations" from the Middle East, of uncertain origin which the chief executive needs to clarify.

Rejecting the allegations, Najib claims he did not violate any law and nor has he pocketed money for personal gain.

Meanwhile, the group's website (www.bersih.org ) is no longer available in Malaysia. Yesterday the government announced the blockade of all websites that "disseminate information" and "encourage people" to join the two-day protest this weekend in the capital and two other cities.

Previously the authorities in Kuala Lumpur denied Bersih permission to carry out the event according to the dictates of the law; a decision that paved the way for a direct confrontation between the organizers (supported by citizens willing to take to the streets) and law enforcement. Already in 2012 the police used water cannons and tear gas to disperse a demonstration organized by the activist movement.

Meanwhile, the Malaysian Star newspaper says that the army is ready to intervene, should the government declare a state of emergency during the event. A military spokesman declined to comment on the report, but confirmed the news of a strengthening of security measures and controls in Kuala Lumpur. Many roads will be closed, while the protesters (who wear yellow shirts) will meet in five different sectors and then reunite in the city center.

Last month, the Malaysian authorities have blocked a website and suspended the publication of two papers that were carrying articles critical of the prime minister that triggered the scandal around the "1MDB".

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