Thousands of anti-government protesters rallied for a second day in Malaysia’s capital, urging Prime Minister Najib Razak to resign over allegations linked to a troubled state investment fund.
The protesters wore yellow T-shirts emblazoned with the Malaysian word for “clean,” in defiance of a government ban on the clothing. Some carried giant mock checks for 2.6 billion ringgit ($619 million), an amount allegedly paid into Najib’s personal accounts. One wore Middle-Eastern garb, a reference to where a government agency said the money came from.
“We have to show the government that we are serious about change,” Alice Choo, a protester, told a crowd gathered near Kuala Lumpur’s Independence Square on Sunday. Police manned barricades to keep protesters out of the square and said that celebrations scheduled there for Sunday night, the eve of Independence Day, would move to a stadium outside of the city.
One of Najib’s critics, former premier Mahathir Mohamad, walked through the crowds on Sunday afternoon, telling protesters and reporters that Najib had to go because he had limited government agencies’ powers to investigate, undermining the legal system.
Crowds during this weekend’s protests peaked at 40,000 to 50,000, according to Deputy Home Minister Nur Jazlan Mohamed. The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections, or Bersih, estimated that as many as 250,000 people may have attended its third major rally since Najib came to power in 2009.

‘Illegal Assembly’

“We allowed an illegal assembly to go on, we allowed them to wear their yellow shirts,” said Nur. “The police tolerated the gathering.”
Elsewhere in Malaysia, some people were arrested for wearing the T-shirts, MalaysiaKini reported, saying that 12 were detained at a rally and at roadblocks.
During the weekend, protesters have sung patriotic songs, waved flags and slept overnight on the streets in Kuala Lumpur. Authorities had no plan to disperse the protest, scheduled to run until close to midnight, Tajuddin Mohd. Isa, the city police chief, said on Sunday. Besides banning the yellow T-shirts, the authorities had blocked websites linked to the rally.

Money Trail

Malaysia has faced two months of upheaval after a report alleged Najib received billions of ringgit in his private accounts in 2013. Najib has denied claims of wrongdoing, fired several critics and pushed back against detractors including Mahathir.
The Wall Street Journal reported on July 3 that money may have moved through government agencies and companies linked to state investment company 1Malaysia Development Bhd., and ended up in accounts bearing Najib’s name before elections in 2013. The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission later said the money was from donors in the Middle East, and not 1MDB, while Najib denied taking money for personal gain.
Previous protests drew a mostly urban crowd of minority Chinese and Indians. Analysts this time are watching to see if there will be more ethnic Malays, the bedrock of support for the ruling United Malays National Organisation.
“There are a lot of Chinese here, but also some Malays,” said Abdul Jaafar Mohd Aziz, a 37-year-old engineer said at Saturday’s rally. “The Malays may not go to the street but that doesn’t mean they are aren’t angry with Najib. Wait for the next election.”