Protests reflect vibrant democracy: PM

(The Sun) – The protests in recent months, namely the anti-Lynas protest and Bersih 3.0, reflect a vibrant democracy in the country, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak.

He said demonstrations are not unusual and happen in other countries as well but the government has promised political transformation and is moving towards a more mature and vibrant democracy by abolishing the Internal Security Act and introducing the Peaceful Assembly Act.

“It is your fundamental right to protest, we will not prevent that, but do it in a peaceful manner. I think this is healthy … When people protest, listen to them and what is it they’re protesting about. Is it reasonable? If it is reasonable, address it,” he said.

Najib was speaking during The CNBC Conversation, a half-hour interview hosted by CNBC anchor Martin Soong as part of The CNBC Summit: Malaysia, a dialogue series that highlights the nation’s current economic climate, yesterday.

He said an example of a “reasonable” protest is the Lynas issue which had huge concerns about safety and the government had gone the extra mile to ensure that Gebeng, Kuantan, where the plant is being set up, is safe although “quite a bit” of the protest “was not based on facts”.

“We’ve never done as much as we’ve done for this Lynas issue. As the government, we are satisfied, the experts are satisfied and the markets are satisfied. We made sure Lynas is safe but unfortunately there is the other side of the democracy, we have an opposition which likes to spin it in a different way but that’s democracy. I don’t blame them for it because that’s the name of the game,” he said.

He said while there are parties who may be unhappy, the government has a solid plan for transformation.

“Believe in us, we have an excellent track record in terms of being able to deliver real progress and change in Malaysia. You can see it for yourself … in Malaysia, things are happening. The facts are there but we have to convince the people,” he said.