Monday, September 15, 2008

Malaysian opposition leader claims takeover bid has begun

Malaysian opposition leader claims takeover bid has begun
16 Sept, 2008

(The Earth Times) Kuala Lumpur - Malaysia's opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim on Monday told a crowd of more than 20,000 that his promises of toppling the government would very soon be a reality, claiming that Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has already been given evidence of the impending takeover. Anwar was speaking to the throng of demonstrators who had gathered at a stadium in the central Selangor state to call for the abolishment of a draconian security law.

The crowds erupted into thunderous applause when Anwar, 61, said that his three-party opposition alliance had secured a sufficient number of parliamentary crossovers to give them a majority to form the new government.

However, Anwar said the opposition wanted a "peaceful transition" of power and would hope to work closely with embattled premier Abdullah on the handing over of the government.

September 16 would mark a "clear and concrete movement" towards a change in the government, Anwar said, but declined to elaborate further, while a party official would only say Anwar would make "some major announcements" on Tuesday.

The charismatic leader led the opposition to major gains in the country's March 8 general elections, denying the ruling coalition of a two-thirds majority in parliament and taking control of five states.

The opposition, which currently holds 82 out of the 222 parliamentary seats, claims that at least 30 government lawmakers have agreed to defect.

Monday's rally was originally held to protest the detention of an opposition lawmaker and a popular blogger under a security law which allows for indefinite detention without trial.

Police on Friday detained opposition politician Teresa Kok and anti-government blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin under the Internal Security Act (ISA), a law drafted almost 60 years ago under British colonial rule to fight a communist insurgency.

Despite the heavy evening downpour, protestors began gathering at the stadium hours before the rally was scheduled to begin.

The rally, which obtained a police permit, kicked off with prayers, marking the breaking of a day-long fast for Muslim during the holy month of Ramadan.

Under Malaysian law, any public gathering of more than five people must obtain a police permit, or be deemed an illegal gathering. Opposition gatherings and rallies have rarely, if ever, managed to get police approval.

Raja Petra, who runs the popular Malaysia Today website known for its anti-government articles, was the first to be detained Friday, followed by Tan Chee Hoon, a reporter with the Chinese-language daily Sin Chew. Shortly before midnight, police detained Kok from near her home.

After 18 hours in custody, Tan was released by police Saturday.

Police have defended the arrests, saying they had received sufficient evidence linking the two remaining detainees to acts that "were detrimental to the calm, peace and harmony of the country."

"In the interest of the nation's peace and harmony, the police will act without fear or favour. The police wish to reiterate and affirm that at the current moment, the situation in this country is calm and under control," deputy police chief Ismail Omar said in a statement released by the Star online news portal.

Raja Petra, whose website and articles have a large following, was charged with sedition in May for allegedly implying that Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak was involved in the gruesome murder of a Mongolian woman.

Kok has allegedly complained about the noise of morning prayers from a mosque in her electorate, an allegation she has denied.

Lim Kit Siang, leader of the opposition Democratic Action Party, slammed the arrests as "arbitrary, unlawful and undemocratic."

"By labelling Teresa and others as threats to national security without any shred of evidence is a travesty of justice and a gross violation of human rights," Lim had said in his blog.

Critics have long called for the ISA law to be abolished, claiming the government was using it to shut out dissenting views in the name of preserving national security.

Friday's arrests seem to have worked in favour of Anwar, who has pledged among others to protect civil liberties and ensure freedom of the press once he becomes prime minister.

The former deputy prime minister has also promised to enforce a major restructuring to a decades-old affirmative action programme that favours the majority ethnic Malays, aside from making economic reforms.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Anwar and PR has some 'musuh dalam selimut'.

Zulkifli Nordin has actually pledged to abandon PKR last Tuesday. In return he can keep his MPship.

The Umno fraction in Pas will hop to BN when Anwar announces the crossover. So PR need more crossovers than needed to form govt.

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