Sunday, July 20, 2008

Anwar Ibrahim Revives Bid For Power Despite Arrest

Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim toured Malaysia over the weekend in a bid to revive his ambitions of seizing power despite his arrest on sodomy allegations -- the same charge that saw him jailed a decade ago, reports AFP.

Dressed in his trademark blue batik shirt, Anwar travelled to the government-held states of Malacca, Pahang and Johor to build support and momentum after last week's explosive events, when he spent a night in police custody over the accusations levelled by a 23-year-old male aide.

"The government knows that if not for these sodomy allegations, I would be on my way into parliament by now," he told a crowd of more than 5,000 conservative Muslim supporters in Jasin, a village near the tourist town of Malacca.

"I tell you now that I will be contesting in a by-election," he told the crowd, to yells of "Allahu akbar" or "God is greater."

A return to parliament would be the next step in the political rehabilitation of Anwar, who was sacked as deputy premier in 1998 and jailed on sodomy and corruption charges.

The sex conviction was overturned, but the corruption count barred him from public office until April.

The Pakatan Rakyat opposition alliance, fired up by Anwar's charismatic presence, made unprecedented gains in March general elections, leaving it just 30 seats short of ousting the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition, which has ruled since independence from Britain a half-century ago.

Anwar's latest crisis, which he says has been fabricated by the government, has been a distraction from his plan to form a new administration with the help of defecting coalition lawmakers.

But he told the crowds on his post-arrest roadshow that he was making progress nevertheless. "I will shortly be ready to announce four BN MPs who will join the Pakatan Rakyat. It will happen very soon," he said.

Anwar had agreed to be questioned Wednesday over the new sodomy allegations brought by Mohamad Saiful Bukhari Azlan, who said he was assaulted at a luxury condo.

But just an hour before he was due to appear, a team of balaclava-clad police commandos picked him up and took him to Kuala Lumpur police headquarters. He was released on police bail until August 18, but could still be charged with sodomy -- which in predominantly Muslim Malaysia is a serious offence with a maximum penalty of 20 years in jail.

Analysts said Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's government could be forced onto the defensive by the allegations, which one survey found are widely disbelieved by Malaysians who have lost faith in the justice system.

"Anwar is trying to capitalise on a tactical weakness of the police and government," said Tricia Yeoh, head of the Centre for Public Policy Studies. "If they charge him in court on the sodomy allegations, he will get more sympathy and support from the public. And if they let him go, he will be vindicated and it will be a victory for the opposition," she said.

Anwar is also seizing on a largely unpopular 41 percent fuel price hike introduced last month, saying he would lower pump prices immediately if he comes to power.

"Don't let these baseless accusations about me distract you from what is most important, how to bring down the high prices of oil and food which have devastated the people," he told an enthusiastic crowd in the small Malaccan village of Cheng on Friday night.

More than a thousand ethnic Chinese supporters, including old men with walking sticks and young girls in cheongsams, turned up to hear him speak in a sign of the multi-ethnic appeal that he enjoys in Malaysia, which is home to large ethnic Indian and Chinese minorities.

"Keadilan (Anwar's party) did not win very big here in the last elections," said 44-year-old villager Choong Hai Sung as blue-and-red Keadilan flags fluttered from wooden houses. But the recent hikes and indifference of the local authorities to our problems mean that we have to now shift our support," he said.

"I know that subsidies are bad but we are going through bad times and Anwar's plans seem like the best option now."

***** Where all this is leading to and how it will end is anyone's guess. But it is good to see the BN and especially Umno on the defensive. The sodomy charge merely reflects their desperation. As it stands Umno hasn't changed its dirty politics or racist mantra and is very unlikely to. Will Anwar make meaningful changes to the lives of all Malaysians? It's a gamble that many apparently are willing to take.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

"It is too quiet, kemo sabe"

"Yes, Tonto"

1:35 PM GMT+8  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

anwaristas will believe anything. no use reasoning with them. irrational people are most difficult, coz they never use their brains.

1:58 PM GMT+8  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agree, in other words : "You cannot reason anyone out of a position that they did not first reason themselves into"

2:24 PM GMT+8  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's put it this can't get any worse than the BN (read: UMNO)! We've seen them in "action" for 50's time for a change!!!!!

1:44 PM GMT+8  
Anonymous BN_beat it! said...

Anyone is better than BN!

3:09 PM GMT+8  
Anonymous Jackie said...

make no mistake..ppl want change alright. the result of the 12th GE proves that very well. But also make no mistake that the votes of the ppl was for Anwar to be the next PM and in such no less high-handed manner too. The mandate was for the Pakatan to try their hands at governing and see if in them we can indeed find not only an alternative, but a better one at that too. Anwar and his pact still have a long way to go. Sometimes Anwar seems to stand in the way of the rest of them though, when the focus on him is more on things like these than his role in real governing issues of the PR-held states.

4:15 PM GMT+8  
Anonymous onuor abraham said...

Haritu dengar cerita azab sangat sakit belakangnya. Komplen sana sini. Dah elok ke sekarang? Elok je tengok melalak sana sini. Hebat betul daya penyembuhan anda.

2:35 AM GMT+8  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Everyone seems to believe Anwar has been framed by the government.

But have you all thought of other possibilities?

1. Why Mrs Anwar has the photos of Anwar's personal secretary meeting up with Najib's adviser? Don't you think it's weird? If she has the photo before hand, why didn't she expose this before everything happened?

2. Why on earth did Anwar hire a student who couldn't even get a proper degree?

3. Why did he still hire a pretty boy if he really 'KNOWS' UMNO is going to frame him like what he claimed?

4. Do you really think UMNO is that stupid to use the same stunt again to bring down Anwar?

5. Why did Anwar hide in pro-western Turkish embassy? To bring more coverage from the western press?

And BN's action is also questionable.

1. Why so serious? (Use commandos as if they were to catch Osama)

2. Why didn't the police bring Anwar to custody? Why should they give Anwar face? I challenge you all, if someone pressed charges on you, what will the police do? Isn't that immediate action the only way?

I'm not pro-gov. But Anwar is equally dubious. He's ambitious and let's no forget what he has done during mid-80s and his time as the deputy PM.

12:42 PM GMT+8  

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