After weeks of the #TangkapMO1 rally being promoted among youth groups, some 2,000 people gathered today in Kuala Lumpur.
The aim was to press for the arrest of “Malaysian Official 1” (MO1), the reference used by the US Department of Justice in its damning report of embezzlement of funds from 1MDB.
The rally went smoothly, and there was no arrest made by police.
The only one “arrested” at the end of rally may be in the form of an effigy resembling Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, which was symbolically placed inside a mock prison as protesters dispersed.
Joining him were his “wife” Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor and her son Riza Aziz, the person named by DOJ as having used millions of dollars of stolen money from 1MDB on partying, lavish gifts and for the movie “The Wolf of Wall Street”.
While the crowd today may be small compared to major anti-government rallies such as those organised by Bersih, the message today by protesters, the bulk of whom were students and youths, is loud and clear: the future of the country is for the young ones to decide.
Days before the rally, Anis Syafiqah, who became the most prominent face of the rally, lamented the indifference of Malaysians despite the country being cited internationally as facing one of the world’s biggest financial scandals.
She attributed this to political fatigue.
“It makes the youths tired and not politically alert. It’s the fatigue syndrome, they do not want to get involved or get to know about political issues. This is the reality, the youths are tired of the existing crisis,” said Anis.
In the days leading to the protest, many dismissed the rally as yet another small but noisy protest by activist-oriented student leaders.
But it proved beyond what many had expected. The crowd was multiracial, mostly made up of students and the younger generation.
“I’m here so we all can get justice… I just want a better country; I don’t care who comes in or goes out,” said Reguna as quoted by Malaysiakini.
Former student leader Khairul Najib Hashim said the gathering today marks the revival of student activism.
“It took place during a time Malaysians were fed up with the actions of corrupt leaders who insult the people’s intelligence,” Khairul, now part of Amanah Youth, told Malaysia Dateline.
Umno leaders have denied that Najib had anything to do with the allegations of theft and corruption surrounding 1MDB.
Najib has also so far refused to say whether he was the one referred to as MO1 in the DOJ documents.
The revelation by DOJ that some US$3 billion from 1MDB had been siphoned off makes it the biggest kleptocracy case in the US.