Friday 15 July 2011

BNM can freeze Bersih assets, says Awang Adek

KUALA LUMPUR, July 15 — Datuk Awang Adek Hussin today said Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) can freeze the assets of those believed to be participating in activities deemed risky to the nation’s security if the police recommend so.

The deputy finance minister highlighted this in relation to reports that the Bersih 2.0 movement headed by Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan was receiving foreign funding for its activities.

According to Awang, provisions within the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act allowed for the central bank to not only bar access to such funds but also trace both deposits and withdrawals of the offending accounts.

Bersih 2.0 chairman Ambiga was earlier reported to have received funds from foreign non-profit organisations through a local bank.

The report carried by a local newspaper said the bank was chosen by Ambiga and the NGOs to help the former Bar Council president in her plan to “cause chaos in Malaysia”.

It was also alleged that an opposition leader owns shares in the bank.

Responding to the issue last week, Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Ismail Omar said the police will work together with BNM to investigate the claims.

Bersih was also hit before by allegations of having received funding from, among others, foreign Christian organisations to finance its July 9 rally for electoral reforms.

The group, however, moved to repudiate the accusations by saying the donations for the rally came from Malaysian citizens here and abroad.

It also clarified that money the group received from two US organisations — the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and Open Society Institute (OSI) — were for other projects unrelated to the July 9 march.
Bersih 2.0’s protest last Saturday saw thousands converge on the capital city in a march for free and fair elections.

The protest, which the government had earlier declared illegal, turned chaotic close to midday when the police fired tear gas and water cannons to disperse protestors.

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