The flash crowd that turned up to boo Najib’s event at Mansion House (the official residence of the City of London’s Mayor) was larger than yesterday’s outside Downing Street. They had been joined by Amnesty International, who have spoken out about the treatment of the Bersih demonstrators at the weekend. Amnesty commands considerable respect in the UK.
The Malaysian PM had come to court the City’s investors and it was embarrassing. Investors do not like countries with uncertain human rights records and an unhappy middle class.
Few non-Malaysians turned up in the end, but some of the investors who did went and chatted first to the crowd of protesters outside. One, who described himself as ‘working for a global investment company’, said that he was well aware of the human rights issues in Malaysia and confirmed that his company monitors the matter and that such issues are of concern.
Meanwhile, the main topic in the crowd was the news that Najib’s lunch with Cameron had been cancelled. Was it owing to the human rights issues or simply because the UK PM was too busy they wondered? Neither looked particularly good from the perspective of the Malaysia PM !
Once again this gathering went off peacefully and the policing was minimal and friendly. Malaysia secret service people were there of course, frantically taking photos of the crowd with the doubtless intention of finding out as much about the Malaysian nationals there and later making their lives as difficult as they could. So we photographed them too.
Najib swept in at the agreed time with a big convoy of Malaysian cars and hurried up the red carpet inside. He saw the crowd and gave them a cheery wave – as if they had come up to give him their support! But, he didn’t risk going over to give autographs!