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Reezal: Gov't identifying M'sian protesters abroad

The Foreign Ministry is to gather information on Malaysians participating in the Bersih 4 demonstrations abroad for eventual legal action against them, said Deputy Minister Reezal Merican Naina Merican.

He said the identity of these Malaysians would be handed over to the relevant authorities for action.

They should not be exempted from legal action because their action could tarnish the image of the country at the international level, Reezal ( photo ) told reporters after opening the Rompin Umno Youth delegates meeting today.

"It is not that we do not have room for the people to express themselves. Malaysia is not a dictatorship," he said, adding that Malaysians abroad should safeguard the country's name and traditions.

Reezal, who is an Umno supreme council member, said it was inappropriate for Malaysians to voice their dissatisfaction with the government of Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak overseas.

"I, too, sometimes, have critical views but I express them through the proper channel and abide by the law. Let's not damage the country and bring suffering to the people.

"Demonstrations in some countries can result in harsh penalties. Freedom of speech must not be seen as absolute freedom to say anything by any way.

"Are we going to legalise everything in the name of freedom of speech or human rights?" he said.

Reezal said the Bersih 4 rally in Kuala Lumpur was also not fair to the traders in and visitors to the city, and allowed irresponsible people to tarnish the country's name.

He also said that the demonstrators were not patriotic because they had chosen a date close to the National Day celebration.

"Why didn't they pick another date? We also have the Peaceful Assembly Act. If they really want to gather, there are several stadiums in states governed by the opposition. They should just gather there," he said.

- Bernama

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