KUALA LUMPUR: Several hundred supporters of the pro-government "red shirts" movement on Saturday (Nov 5) staged a second protest outside the office of news portal Malaysiakini, decrying foreign intervention in the country, particularly by US billionaire and philanthropist George Soros.
The red shirts, led by ruling party UMNO division leader Jamal Yunos, say that the Soros-linked Open Society Foundations (OSF) funded civil society groups such as the pro-reform Bersih group as well as Malaysiakini, and that the funding is a form of US intervention to bring down Prime Minister Najib Razak's government.
Said Jamal: "We didn't come for fun today. We didn't come today just to protest for the sake of it. But our demonstration today is very important for Malaysians so that we don't allow Malaysiakini to be an agent for foreign powers."
In an earlier demonstration, Jamal had vowed to bring thousands to the Malaysiakini office on Saturday, even threatening to bring down the building.
But dozens of police personnel and the Federal Reserve Unit blocked the group from reaching the political news portal's premises.
The group claims Soros was responsible for the fall of several Islamic nations, and that organisations like Bersih and Malaysiakini threaten the status of Islam in Malaysia as well.
Malaysiakini editor-in-chief Steven Gan acknowledged on Thursday that the portal receives a grant from OSF but maintained that the amount is "very small" and that the operation of Malaysiakini "does not rely on the funding".
Open Society has denied accusations it was aiding attempts to usurp the Malaysian government.
In a media conference on Saturday, Gan said he respected the pro-government movement's right to protest, but added: "I don't think there's any law that will enable the government to shut (Malaysiakini) down.
"So Jamal can make whatever remarks he wants to make. It doesn't look like he is responsible for the remarks he made and you just have to take it with a pinch of salt, really."
The red shirt movement has pledged to rally again on Nov 19 - the date set by Bersih for a mass demonstration calling for governmental reform and the resignation of Prime Minister Najib Razak over an international corruption scandal involving state investment fund 1MDB.