Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Sept 16 ON OR NOT??

Malaysia's Anwar says Sept. 16 date may not be met

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 10 (Reuters) - Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim may not meet his planned Sept. 16 date for winning power due to a trip overseas by almost 50 government MPs, a newspaper quoted him on Wednesday as saying.

'After discussion with (opposition coalition partners) PAS and DAP, the date can be postponed even though our target was September 16 previously,' Anwar was quoted as saying in the Star.

The comments were made after late night prayers on Tuesday, the paper said.

No-one from Anwar's coalitition, which comprises his own Keadilan party, the Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS) and the Democratic Action Party (DAP), was immediately available for comment on the report.

Anwar has to win the defection of 30 government MPs to have a majority in the 222-strong Malaysian parliament. At present his coalition has 82 seats.

The ruling Barisan Nasional coalition this week sent around 50 of its MPs on a study trip to Taiwan, a move which Anwar said was aimed at preventing him from convincing them to switch sides.

Anwar is due in court at 9:30 a.m. (0130 GM) to face charges of sodomy, which he denies and says are politically motivated. He is likely to be bailed again and the case moved to the High Court.


Anwar says Malaysia government to fall by Tuesday
Wednesday, September 10, 2008

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia: Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim said Wednesday he will topple Malaysia's government by early next week despite a trip abroad by ruling coalition lawmakers that he claims is aimed at thwarting his plans.

The three-party opposition alliance can seize power if at least 30 members of Parliament defect from the National Front coalition, and Anwar said he would fly overseas if necessary to meet with lawmakers he hopes to lure to his side.

He has vowed for several months to take power by Sept. 16.

About 50 National Front lawmakers left for a farming study tour in Taiwan earlier this week amid opposition accusations that coalition leaders had sent them there to keep them away from Anwar and to dissuade some of them from defecting.

Anwar claims to have made tacit pacts with dozens of lawmakers in recent months, and insisted that he was still "very much" on track for his target date of next Tuesday.

"We're working on it," Anwar told reporters. "There are technical problems because (the lawmakers) have been shipped away. ... God-willing, it will (still) happen. If need be, I will fly to Taipei."

The government has denied the tour is politically motivated.

National Front lawmakers met by The Associated Press at a seafood restaurant in Taiwan's southern Pingtung county expressed confidence that Anwar's threat was a bluff.

"You should go ask him. He knows better than I do," legislator Chua Tee Yong said when asked about Anwar's claim of imminent defections.

Taiwan Foreign Ministry spokesman Henry Chen said the island was not aware of any impending visit by Anwar and had received no visa application from him.

Anwar, who is battling a charge that he sodomized his 23-year-old former male aide, made his comments Wednesday after a Sessions Court delayed a preliminary hearing for his sodomy trial.

Government prosecutors said Wednesday they wanted to transfer the case to a higher court because it had attracted widespread interest, including from international observers.

Anwar's lawyers objected, saying the current judge was sufficiently qualified. The court will hear formal arguments from both sides Sept. 24 before making a decision.

Anwar is charged with allegedly sodomizing Saiful Bukhari Azlan — the second such accusation in a decade for the former deputy premier, who was ousted in 1998 amid charges that he sodomized his family driver. A court overturned that sodomy conviction in 2004.

Anwar reiterated Wednesday the latest charge was "treacherous and malicious." The government has denied any conspiracy against Anwar.

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has pledged to foil Anwar's attempt to unseat the National Front, which has governed Malaysia for 51 years but suffered its worst electoral result ever in March national polls.

The National Front won 140 seats in the 222-member Parliament, losing its two-thirds majority for the first time since 1969.

Anwar won a by-election last month that enabled him to re-enter Parliament and to become prime minister if his alliance takes power.


Associated Press correspondent Debby Wu contributed to this report from Pingtung, Taiwan.

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