KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 16 — Several group, including Perikatan Nasional (PN), are organising the “Save Malaysia” rally today to protest the discharge not amounting to acquittal (DNAA) granted to Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi over the 47 charges in his Yayasan Akalbudi trial.
The rally is planned for 2pm at Masjid Kampung Baru here.
On September 10, PN Youth chief Ahmad Fadhli Shaari said the coalition would lead the protest against Zahid’s conditional discharge on Malaysia day.
He said Zahid’s DNAA has disillusioned Malaysians, requiring the rally to “save Malaysia” from the corrupt in a callback to the 2016 Bersih rally calling for Datuk Seri Najib Razak to resign as the prime minister at the time over the 1MDB scandal.
The organisers are demanding that the government charge Zahid again immediately, to ensure the independence of the Attorney General’s Chambers and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, and the equal application of the law to all citizens.
The rally is organised by Save Malaysia Movement Secretariat, led by the Islamist coalition Ummah, its allied student group Gabungan Mahasiswa Islam Se-Malaysia (Gamis), and the pro-Malay group Perkasa.
It has now been joined by PN political parties of PAS, Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia, and Gerakan as well as Parti Pejuang Tanahair.
The organisers are targeting for thousands to attend the rally and protest against the government.
Senior Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM) officials have said the rally is not compliant with the Peaceful Assembly Act for failure to give notice of five days before the event, with complete details as required.
However, the parties behind the rally said they have not received any instructions to cancel the rally, insisting that they have complied with the PAA by providing police with the advance notice required under the law.
The rally has drawn mixed response, with government leaders being critical of the event, including Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail, who accused the organisers of disrespecting Malaysia Day by choosing to organise the protest today.
Conversely, it has also drawn the support of those such as Bersih that have said the rally was the legitimate exercise of Malaysians’ constitutional right to assembly freely.
Political analysts are predicting a strong turnout at the rally, with International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) assistant professor of political science Syaza Shukri saying PN parties such as PAS have proven themselves capable in mobilising supporters.
“But will it make a difference? I’m not so sure. Bersih’s gathering worked out before because it was across civil society organisations.
“This will be a political rally so it’s a bit difficult to put pressure on the government as it’s seen to be partisan. Maybe if they do it more than once it would have a stronger impact,” she told the Malay Mail.
“Having said all that, I believe in their right to make their grievances known, regardless it’s on Malaysia Day. In fact, we understand the symbol of the PN asking for a better Malaysia in their eyes today.”
Nusantara Academy for Strategic Research (NASR) senior fellow Azmi Hassan said the rally would allow PN to portray the country as heading into a bleak future under the unity government.
The outcome of this would be to discourage investors from Malaysia for fear of further upheaval, he said.
“It would create a perception that the federal government is not stable or under threat. And when the federal government is under threat, the stability, political stability is not there.”
Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) Institution of Malay Rulers Chair fellow Mujibu Abd Muis said he personally saw no issue with the rally so long as it was by the law.
“But I don’t see it serve the purpose because it is politically driven, and the DNAA issue is still being resolved by all parties including the special parliamentary committee asking the attorney general for clarification, which is worth waiting for rather than politicising it with a public rally,” he said.