Friday, September 12, 2008

Anwar closes in on D-day

Anwar closes in on D-day

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 13- Everywhere he goes, whatever he does and whoever he meets, Anwar Ibrahim always seems to be in the spotlight. Not even his great nemesis, Mahathir Mohamad, in his political heyday, came anywhere near to Anwar's star power.

It has a lot to do with his return being one of the great political comebacks - from six years in jail, his career apparently over, to being within sight of the greatest prize of all, the prime minister's job.

His self-imposed deadline for becoming prime minister is Tuesday, the day he has offered as D-Day for the new Malaysia. Millions of Malaysians believed him and prayed for his success.

Increasingly, it appears he won't meet his deadline as the government counters his moves with political manoeuvring and media crackdowns.

Anwar's game plan was to engineer defections and topple the government, then have himself sworn in as prime minister by September 16, the auspicious date in 1963 when Singapore and the Borneo states of Sabah and Sarawak joined Malaya to form Malaysia. (Singapore left two years later to chart its own course)

"It is a calculated date {hellip} not selected randomly," said Tian Chua, a senior strategist with Mr Anwar and head of information with the Keadilan party, of which Mr Anwar is officially an adviser.

Anwar had hoped that at least 30 MPs from the Borneo states ~ whose relationship with Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi has become strained over a number of issues, most recently the size of their petroleum royalty - would jump ship, giving Mr Anwar the numbers he needs to form the next government.

Anwar is promising them a 20 per cent royalty along with other perks and patronage if they defect. Mr Abdullah has countered the move with an offer of M$1 billion (HK$2.24 million) in "special development" aid to mollify his critics, at least until after Tuesday.

Speculation reached fever pitch after Mr Anwar handsomely won an August 26 by-election and was sworn in as opposition leader, a triumphant

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