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  • Malaysian protesters hold derogatory signs of Prime Minister Najib Razak.

    Malaysian protesters hold derogatory signs of Prime Minister Najib Razak. | Photo: Reuters

Published 30 August 2015

In an attempt to squash protests, the government has banned people from wearing yellow t-shirts, shut down the website of activist group Bersih and declared their rallies illegal.

Thousands of Malaysians took to the streets for a second day Sunday, demanding that Prime Minister Najib Razak resign for his alleged participation in a US$700 million corruption scandal.

Protestors, many of whom were clad in yellow t-shirts, initially gathered in the streets of Kuala Lumpur Saturday demanding a change in government. The attire has become the symbol of resistance after government officials banned the yellow shirts and the logo of electoral reform pressure group Bersih, blocked the organizer's website and declared the rallies illegal.

Organizers of the Saturday's demonstration said some 200,000 people took part in the rally, although police put that number closer to 25,000.

Protests Sunday got off to an early start, after many of the demonstrators spent Saturday night on the street near Independence Square. They woke early to mass exercises and resumed their previous day's activities of peaceful demonstrations.

“This is a watershed moment. Malaysians are united in their anger at the mismanagement of this country. We are saying loudly that there should be a change in the leadership,” said protester Azrul Khalib, who slept on the street with his friends.

Khalid told Al Jazeera that he was aware the rally would not change the political situation overnight, but was “part of efforts to build a new Malaysia.”

Prime Minister Razak has been under scrutiny since July when leaked documents revealed that some US$700 million appeared in his personal bank account from unnamed foreign donors.

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Najib told citizens that the donation was from the Middle East, but has not released the identities of the donors nor details of what the money is being used for.

The Prime Minister has since fired the government officials investigating him, including his critical deputy, the attorney general and four other Cabinet members.

Najib has tried to block the rallies and accused protesters of trying to “discredit our good name” on the international stage.

“Those who wear this yellow attire ... they want to discredit our good name, scribble black coal on Maylasia's face to the outside world,” local media quoted him as saying. “What is important is that I am empowering the police to take action,” the leader added.

Other rallies occurred in cities across the country this weekend as Malaysia prepares for its national day, Hari Merdeka, which is celebrated annually on Aug 31.

Meanwhile, former Malaysian leader Mahathir Mohamad called for a "people's power" movement to topple the embattled prime minister.

"The only way for the people to get back to the old system is for them to remove this prime minister," he told media before heading to the protests. "And to remove him, the people must show people's power. The people as a whole do not want this kind of corrupt leader."

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