- A message to all Malaysians
- ‘You have to be prepared for a long battle’: The second coming of Anwar Ibrahim
- Jadual Terbaru DI Ambang PRU 13 Bersama Anwar Ibrahim
- PM or not, Anwar Ibrahim has won
- The wild ride of Anwar Ibrahim
- Anwar as PM, two DPMs if Pakatan takes Putrajaya, says Karpal
- Anwar vows no retributive justice for political foes
- Vote without fear, Anwar urges Malaysians
Posted: 04 May 2013 10:04 AM PDT
Posted: 04 May 2013 09:56 AM PDT
He rose to the top, then ended up in jail. Now Malaysia's opposition leader stands on the verge of a remarkable election victory
He has been arrested and jailed and his reputation repeatedly dragged through the mud, but Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim believes his time has finally come.
On Sunday, Malaysia goes to the polls in what experts have called the closest and most hotly contested election since the country secured independence from Britain 56 years ago.
"All the surveys, including the government of Malaysia's, have shown we are leading," Mr Ibrahim told The Independent, speaking by phone from Kuala Lumpur. "But we have to take care to look for bias and fraud in the electoral process. We are appealing to the international community and the media to follow the election very closely."
The 65-year-old heads the Pakatan Rakyat (People's Alliance) opposition coalition, which is trying to defeat the ruling Barisan Nasional (National Front) bloc, which has held power in Malaysia since 1957. He is doing so by highlighting alleged corruption, authoritarianism and laws that favour ethnic Malays over their Indian- and Chinese-origin countrymen and women.
Since independence, the nation has emerged as a success story of economic growth and development (after a brief recession in 2009, its GDP is once again on the rise). It has also avoided the worst of the turmoil that has affected other countries in the region. But critics say it has done so at the cost of human rights, openness and freedom of expression. They also say corruption is rife.
"It's such an authoritarian system. We need to transform the country into a vibrant democracy," said Mr Ibrahim. "There is no independent media, we have racist policies. We need to have a more transparent system that recognises the value of all relationships, irrespective of race."
The veteran opposition leader has been speaking at rallies across the country at which he highlights what he says is widespread nepotism within the government, headed by the British-educated Prime Minister, Najib Razak. He believes the mood in the country suggests the public is ready to back him and he talks of a "Malaysian spring".
He has also been making repeated claims that the ruling party is engaged in efforts to rig the election; earlier this week he issued a statement claiming the Prime Minister's office was hiring charter planes to fly in up to 40,000 "ghost voters" from its strongholds to vote in close races elsewhere in the country. A government spokesperson did not respond to The Independent's request for a comment. Beating the National Front coalition is no easy matter for Mr Ibrahim. It holds 135 of the parliament's 222 seats, compared with the 75 held by Mr Ibrahim; and ahead of the elections, Mr Razak, the son of one of Malaysia's founding fathers, has also introduced a series of populist measures designed to win votes. Agence France-Presse recently reported that Mr Razak is also motivated by the knowledge that if he loses the contest, he will likely face a leadership challenge within his own party, the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO).
Opinion polls last month suggested the race was too close to call, or else gave a narrow edge to the ruling party. But a survey published last week, conducted by the University of Malaya's Centre for Democracy and Elections, suggested the opposition was slightly in the lead.
Should Mr Ibrahim achieve victory, it would represent a remarkable turn-around. In the early 1990s, the son of a hospital porter rose through the ranks of one of the ruling National Front parties to be the protégé of Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
Widely hailed in the West as a reformist, Mr Ibrahim held a series of government portfolios, including the finance ministry, before being appointed deputy prime minister in 1998. But the two men, who had been described as being like father and son, fell out over Mr Ibrahim's repeated calls for reform.
Sacked from office, he was then accused of sodomy, which remains a crime in Malaysia. The allegations were contained within a book – 50 Reasons Why Anwar Cannot Become Prime Minister – written by the editor of a government-controlled newspaper. Despite many seeing them as politically motivated, Mr Ibrahim spent six years in jail. He was released in 2004. In 2008, the opposition leader challenged the government at the polls, for the first time threatening its simple majority. In the aftermath of that election, fresh allegations of sodomy were made, this time by a former aide. Mr Ibrahim again insisted he was innocent, and in January 2012, following a trial that lasted two years, he was acquitted.
The opposition leader said the time he spent in jail had not been easy. "After I was released in 2004, I was invited by Nelson Mandela to spend time in Johannesburg," he said. "I joked that my release had been a 'short walk to freedom' [a reference to the title of Mr Mandela's autobiography]. We have faith and conviction that the country can be freed from authoritarian rule and the economy can be changed to serve the country and the masses.
"Of course, at times, during solitary confinement you think about your wife and family," he said. "And you think that there might be other options and the political leadership might be more open too. But the fact is that if you want to dismantle a country's system, they are not going to give up power easily. You have to be prepared – it's a long battle."
Dr Mohamed Nawab Mohamed Osman, head of the Malaysia programme at Singapore's S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, said he believed Mr Ibrahim could tap into growing public dissatisfaction about corruption and "crony capitalism".
He said his coalition would also draw support from ethnic Indians and Chinese fed up with what they see as inequalities, such as reservation of university places for ethnic Malays. And yet, he said, should Mr Ibrahim lead the opposition coalition to victory at the weekend, it would represent nothing less than a remarkable achievement. "To come back once from a political death is remarkable, but to come back two times would be a feat very few leaders have achieved," he said. "It's amazing. No one would have thought that prior to 2008, Anwar Ibrahim could be the next prime minister of the country."
Posted: 04 May 2013 02:37 AM PDT
4 Mei 2013 (Sabtu)
1) 2.30 ptg – Perkarangan Masjid Daerah Balik Pulau, PENANG
2) 4.00 ptg – Pdg Awam Pekan Tanjong Rambutan, PERAK
3) 6.00 ptg - Padang Bola PPR Kerinci, KUALA LUMPUR
4) 9.00 mlm – Stadium MPSP, Jln Betik, Bukit Mertajam, PENANG
5) 10.00 mlm. – Tapak Expo Seberang Jaya, PENANG
PEJABAT DATO’ SERI ANWAR IBRAHIM
Posted: 04 May 2013 02:34 AM PDT
That Anwar Ibrahim would be adjudged the most consequential political leader of the second half century of the Malaysian nation’s existence is not in doubt.
This would be true even if by midnight tomorrow he is not endorsed as prime minister of the country as a result of the outcome of the country’s 13th general election.
His achievements will be deemed to be weighty even if the coalition he leads, Pakatan Rakyat, does not win a majority of the seats in Parliament at tomorrow’s polls, the most pivotal in the nation’s history and, by reason of it being the 13th in the series, the most unnervingly resonant.
This is because the race riots of May 13, 1969, continue to rattle in the attic of the nation’s memory like cargo come loose in the hold of a freighter.
The ghosts of that incident and the aftermath it unveiled, in an initially good and, then, gone badly wrong social engineering scheme, desperately need to be exorcised from the nation’s collective memory.
Otherwise this country will forever be pinned down by the twin obsessions of race and religion, with its society teetering permanently on the brink of multiple schisms.
No Malaysian leader has demonstrated more capability at possible attainment of that release than Anwar because of his skill at challenging and re-shaping the assumptions of the people he proposes to lead.
When he re-emerged on the national scene in 2007 to lead the opposition to continued rule by BN, after the shipwreck of a six-year stay in prison on trumped-on charges and a brief spell in the grooves of academe, Malaysian politics was firmly stuck in the quagmire of race and religion, a bog 50 years in the making and seemingly unyielding to nostrums.
By dint of being the principal adhesive in an ideologically disparate opposition that grouped a theocratic PAS and a secular DAP, with his own PKR holding the balance, he was able to lead the coalition – with an assist from the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) – to a historic denial to the ruling BN of its vaunted two-thirds parliamentary majority in the general election of March 2008.
That in itself was a tremendous achievement.
Given that previous electoral pacts between the exclusively Muslim PAS and the Chinese-dominant DAP did not amount to government-buffeting proportions or had unravelled soon after the polls, the fact that the Pakatan has endured now for five years makes his welding together of it a tour de force.
These are stupendous achievements, ones that eluded past protagonists of anti-Umno/BN coalitions, Onn Jaafar and Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, who dented but could not dislodge the ruling powers, now over a half-century in harness, a span that’s formidably difficult to end because of the enormous advantages conferred by incumbency.
That Anwar has been able to lead and sustain a coalition while simultaneously fending off a campaign, partly played out in the courts, of sustained vilification of his moral character was evidence of admirable reserves of moral fibre and resilience.
The huge crowds that have turned out to hear him since Parliament dissolved on April 3 have been bigger and more responsive than the ones that showed up at his campaign appearances in the lead-up to GE12 in 2008.
Those crowds had paved the way for an unprecedented denial to BN of its traditional two-thirds majority in Parliament.
These days the crowds’ magnitude presages the downfall of the BN government, the reason for caretaker Prime Minister and BN chief Najib Abdul Razak’s vacuous optimism that his coalition would regain its two-thirds majority being interpreted as cover for electoral fraud on a massive scale.
That move would be foolish, given the size and mood of the crowds that have turned up at Pakatan rallies in several cities and towns in the residential hubs of the country.
Mainly, the people have come to hear and see the Pied Piper of Malaysian political reform, to look at how he has held up under the barrage of vituperation and character assassination.
No leader in modern times, in this and other countries, has been subjected to such a sustained and intense bout of personal vilification.
Throughout it all, Anwar composed himself before countless audiences in such manner as to steadily stay on the issues of national concern, telling his listeners how these have been grossly mishandled by Umno-BN.
Aided by a potentially disastrous decision by Najib to defer the polls on the assumption that a new-broom PM would recover lost ground through handouts and cosmetic changes to policies, Anwar used the time thereby extended him and the Pakatan leadership cohort to hammer away at the massive corruption and colossal waste of the country’s resources by over a half-century of BN rule.
Revelations from a serial run of scandals affecting the government was of great help to making the point that Umno-BN was diseased beyond redemption.
The Pakatan message would not have gotten through widely enough without the connectivity of the alternative media, the mainstream one having been rendered a joke by its sickeningly supine attitude to its masters and owners.
The consequence of this widely disseminated message is the spectacle of the return in droves from such places as Singapore and nearby countries of otherwise indifferent Malaysian voters resident in those places who are keen to give the Pakatan plea for urgent reform of a decayed and dysfunctional system a chance to be realised.
These returnees and their local counterparts should help make the voter turnout at GE13 a peak – far more than the previous highest of 72 percent of the electorate – unmatched before.
Needless to say, a huge turnout would be a big fillip to Anwar’s anticipated arrival at a personal summit: the fulfillment of a youthful ambition to be prime minister.
If the good life is a dream of youth realised in maturity, the great one must be the confluence between the fulfillment of a personal goal with the attainment of a national purpose which, in Anwar’s view, is the salvation of Malaysia from Umno-BN’s depredations.
Even without this fusion, his career has been a consequential one. With it, it would be a great one.
Posted: 04 May 2013 02:30 AM PDT
Malaysia’s opposition leader sprints through the final stages of a campaign that has brought him to the brink of power.
Anwar Ibrahim has had only three hours sleep.
In the past 12 days, Malaysia’s opposition leader had criss-crossed the entire country, stumping for his coalition’s candidates and driving home its message of change.
The punishing schedule has left his campaign bus in the mechanic’s workshop, but with the election just days away, Anwar is still full of energy.
“It’s a job for crazy people,” 65-year-old Anwar chuckled on Wednesday. “It’s not for the sane.”
A little later, Anwar leaves his comfortable home, in an area of Kuala Lumpur known more for its scruffy wooden houses and pot-holed streets than its fancy villas, and headed west.
The four-car convoy is running behind schedule. It’s no journey for the speed-shy or faint of heart.
A sizeable crowd is waiting on the muddy field where Anwar is due to speak. He’s swallowed up by an enthusiastic group of supporters almost as soon as he leaves the car.
They chant “ubah”, the Malay word for change, and “reformasi“, reform; the clarion cries of the opposition.
With the campaign in its final stages, Anwar’s three-party alliance, Pakatan Rakyat, can sense that power may finally be almost within its grasp.
Anwar is in his element. He teases the crowd, woos them, makes them laugh and cheer. It’s hard to imagine he’s had so little sleep.
“No power on earth can stop the power of the people,” he thundered.
The audience roars in agreement.
It’s more than a decade since the tumultuous year when Malaysia felt the full force of the Asian financial crisis. The year was 1998 and then-prime minister Mahathir Mohamad sacked Anwar from his positions as finance minister and deputy prime minister, before Anwar was charged with sodomy and abuse of power following an alleged homosexual affair.
The lurid trial that followed provoked both embarrassment - the mattress stained in the alleged trysts was frequently carried into court – and shame - Anwar appeared for one hearing with a black eye following his beating at the hands of the then-police chief.
In the end, the former highflyer was found guilty.
He was sentenced to six years in jail on corruption charges, and later ordered to remain in prison for a further nine years for sodomy. The second conviction was overturned in 2004, and he was released.
It was a spectacular fall for someone Mahathir had identified as a potential successor.
In 1982, Mahathir convinced the former student firebrand and Islamic youth activist to join the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), the dominant party in the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition, and had promoted him quickly through the ranks.
Sankara Nair was one of five lawyers who defended Anwar at his 1998 trial. For six years, he visited Anwar three times a week, taking books - everything from Islamic texts to Shakespeare, economic theory and the classics - as well as notes and cards from well-wishers and family.
Once a week his wife and children were allowed into the jail to see him.
“Family visits were so important to him while he was in prison,” Sankara told Al Jazeera.
“He would try to spend as much time with them as he could, whether it was in jail or on his court appearances. Without them, he would have fallen apart.”
Anwar’s family helped publicise his case internationally. His eldest daughter, Nurul Izzah Anwar, then just 18, travelled the world to highlight her father’s plight and to speak to the United Nations.
At home, wife Wan Azizah Ismail set up the Keadilan political party, now part of the Pakatan coalition, to push for Anwar’s freedom, and wider democratic reforms.
Anwar’s family stressed the charges were politically motivated, but the party made little impact in the 2004 polls, when Barisan won by a landslide.
By 2008, with Anwar released and back in politics, the opposition parties were able not only to deprive Barisan of its two-thirds majority but to win control of five states.
Now, with Anwar at its helm, the opposition faces its best-ever chance of wresting power from Barisan, which has governed Malaysia in one form or another since the country’s independence.
His political partners say they have no concerns about their leader’s past, insisting Anwar’s understanding of Barisan’s inner workings helps in the fight to unseat the ruling coalition.
“It is a strength rather than a weakness,” Tian Chua, Keadilan’s vice president, told Al Jazeera.
“You need to have a leader who was once part of the system to understand it and make the change. Anwar is charismatic enough to hold the opposition forces together. I don’t think many people have that quality.”
Pakatan’s promise to tackle corruption, reduce the cost of living and promote more inclusive government has resonated strongly among urban voters.
Even in Putrajaya, the UMNO-dominated administrative capital, in the middle of a hot, tropical afternoon, thousands turned out to greet him and the city’s PAS candidate, Husam Musa.
Taking shelter in the sun, even Anwar’s aides admitted they were shocked at the size of the crowd, all the more so in a city that was one of Mahathir’s pet projects and cost billions of dollars to build.
“He’s a man who’s been to heaven and hell in all aspects of his life,” said businessman Stanley Thai, who has contributed funds to Anwar’s party. “He’s probably experienced the highest and lowest in life and changed a lot because of that.”
Even after his 2004 release from prison, when the judge freed him six years to the day of his arrest, Anwar’s legal troubles have continued. In 2008, he was charged a second time for sodomy, a criminal offence in Malaysia.
Acquitted in 2012, the prosecutor is appealing the decision and his accuser continues to push the case. A tape appearing to show Anwar allegedly having sex with a woman who was not his wife has also surfaced.
Still, it’s not the alleged sex scandals that make some Malaysians wary of Anwar, it’s that they doubt his political principles and fear that he would allow the country to become an Islamic state.
As a minister, Anwar had a mixed record, clumsily introducing a standardised version of the national language, and following International Monetary Fund prescriptions for austerity to deal with the financial crisis.
Others worry about his religious convictions. After all, Anwar was a one-time leader of the Islamic youth movement.
“He’s a political chameleon,” said Siti Zabedah Kassim, a lawyer and activist. “I don't care whether he’s a homosexual or a bisexual, but he’s hiding his true self. He’s a hard-core believer.”
Barisan continues to play on these worries. Pamphlets and booklets questioning Anwar’s suitability to lead the country are distributed at member parties’ rallies.
The mainstream media warns Pakatan will introduce Hudud law – one of four categories of punishment in Sharia - if it wins on Sunday, even though that would need a change to the constitution. Only last week, Mahathir accused Anwar of being a liar and repeated allegations of sexual misconduct.
Anwar denies such charges. He says he’s stuck by his principles and that prison only reinforced his belief in the need for democracy, the rule of law and justice.
“Had I been a conformist within UMNO I would have remained in the party,” he told Al Jazeera. “I would have become prime minister, but we failed in the reform agenda in UMNO.
“They are in a state of denial. They refuse to acknowledge endemic corruption [and] the racist agenda is continuing. Prison was no bed of roses, but it has given [me] time to reflect, meditate and be more passionate on the issue of freedom, justice and humanitarian ideas.”
At one of six rallies he spoke at this week in Kuala Lumpur, before heading south to Johor state, Anwar worked for every vote.
He paced the stage, assuring his audience that he would govern for all of them - regardless of ethnicity.
Afterwards, the man who faces possibly his last chance to become prime minister made his way back through the crowd, shaking hands and acknowledging well-wishers
Soon, Anwar was on his way, escorted by a convoy of flag-carrying bike riders, to his next appointment.
Posted: 04 May 2013 02:24 AM PDT
Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim will be Malaysia's seventh prime minister while PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang and Lim Kit Siang will share honours as his deputies if Pakatan Rakyat (PR) seizes Putrajaya on Sunday, the DAP's Karpal Singh proposed last night before a big crowd in Penang.
"Of course the man who is fit to be prime minister of this country, we in DAP propose and support Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim as Malaysia's seventh prime minister.
"Hadi Awang can be deputy prime minister. Lim Kit Siang can be DPM II and he can also be home minister," the DAP national chairman told an ecstatic crowd dressed in the traffic light colours of red, yellow and green that crammed every square inch of ground in the port city where the pact had resurrected the forgotten Speaker's Corner after coming to power five years ago.
The Bukit Gelugor MP incumbent, who is defending his seat in the May 5 polls, also proposed that he stay a lawyer to advise the new regime — should it come to power — on making laws that enforce justice for all.
"People say Kit Siang and I are old, we both have served for more than 20 years," he said, before telling the predominantly Chinese crowd, "lang lau, sim bo lau."
In the Hokkien dialect favoured by the Penang Chinese, it means the body may be old but the heart is not.
"Lim Kit Siang and I, we are not old. There is still fire in our bellies," said the 72-year-old known to many as the "Tiger of Bukit Gelugor" for his fierce and unbending belief in the rule of law.
Pakatan Rakyat candidates and leaders (right) wave to the huge crowd at the grand rally at the Esplanade last night.The veteran lawyer and lawmaker reminded Penang's voters who were out in full force that night — beating the turnout at the historic Han Chiang College just four nights earlier — that the time for change had come.
"In Singapore, the People's Action Party has suffered defeat in its elections… the time has come, there must be change. On the 5th of May, the change must be the removal of Barisan Nasional in Putrajaya," he said.
The party's line-up of speakers last night, which included newcomers such as Kasthuri Patto and Zairil Khir Johari, told the Penang crowd that the BN's old playbook of peddling racial and religious fears to divide and conquer Malaysia's multicultural communities no longer held traction with the 13.3 million electorate, especially the young, who craved a government that focused on cutting corruption and helping to put the economy back on track.
"There is a thirst for change in Malaysia today.
"It's all in your hands, the people of this country. And this thirst for change will be quenched on the 5th of May," Karpal summed up when he took to the stage as the rally's final speaker.
In a speech punctuated with the blares from the vuvuzuela popularly used to cheer on football teams, Karpal also called on the gargantuan crowd to make sure that on May 5, Kit Siang's son Lim Guan Eng is given a second mandate to govern Penang as its chief minister.
The mega ceramah, which started at about 8pm, saw droves of people arriving from as early as 7pm.
Major roads leading into the world heritage city were clogged with cars and motorcycles by 9pm, just as the ceramah was warming up.
According to news reports fed by the organisers as well as friends who had planned to attend the rally but were stuck in traffic, the gridlock extended all the way to the Penang Bridge to the south and Tanjung Tokong on the turtle-shaped island's north end.
The event ended shortly after midnight with the DAP announcing a jaw-dropping RM505,000 in its donation drive at the Esplanade last night. On its Facebook page a couple of hours later, the donation was updated to read RM587,168.85.
Posted: 04 May 2013 02:23 AM PDT
Pakatan’s prime minister designate Anwar Ibrahim has vowed that his political opponents will not face “retributive justice” should he assume power in Putrajaya tomorrow.
His political enemies, among others, is his former boss,ex-premier Mahathir Mohamad (right).
“I have no intention of taking revenge against him nor will we be conducting any investigation on him,” said Anwar at a press conference in Kubang Semang today.
“However, this does not mean that the wealth of Petronas will continue to remain a monopoly in the hands of his cronies,” he was quick to add.
“Such ill gotten wealth must be returned to the people,” he stressed.
“I can understand his hysterical outburst recently but no one said we will go after him,” he quipped.
nwar, a former deputy prime minister, insisted that his government will follow due process of law when implementing justice.
Praise for caretaker PM
“We believe in justice and rule of law and we will follow the due process,” he said
At the press briefing, Anwar (left) thanked caretaker prime minister Najib Razak for promising a smooth transition of power and calling for civility in campaigning.
On his being the Pakatan federal government’ premier Anwar played safe, saying “it would be decided by consensus”.
“We do not want to pre-empt the campaign which is why we did not make any announcement,” he said, adding he was aware that some quarters have made such declaration.
On the posts of deputy prime ministers, Anwar said that too had been agreed by general consensus but no announcement had been made.
This was in reference to DAP national chairperson Karpal Singh who said at the mammoth rally at the Esplanade last night that PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang would be DPM 1 and senior leader Lim Kit Siang DPM 2.
Meanwhile, Anwar also announced a slew of measures for the 100 days in power if the coalition takes over Putrajaya tomorrow.
Among others, Anwar declared May 6 a federal holiday “to ease the rakyat’s travels home, after voting”.
He also announced the launch of “Freeing the Parliament” agenda in which the Pakatan government would seek to amend or abolish all anti-rakyat laws.
These include the Printing and Presses Act 1984, 1971 University and University Colleges Act, reinstatement of the 20 percent petroleum and hydrocarbon royalties to Sabah, Sarawak, Terengganu and Kelantan.
Posted: 04 May 2013 02:22 AM PDT
In his polling day eve message to all Malaysians,defacto PKR leader Anwar Ibrahim urged the country’s 13 million voters to turn up and cast their ballots with “faith, courage and vision”.
“Your decision will take Malaysia into a new era. Go out and vote with strength, encourage all your family, friends and neighbours to cast their ballots,” Anwar (left) said today at a press conference in Kubang Semang.
Anwar also thanked civil servants for their dedication, service and impeccable credentials that has helped run the government.
He also urged them not to get involved in the shredding or hiding of government documents if Pakatan were to seize Putrajaya from the BN tomorrow, after polling day.
“Please do not abet any quarters to complicate the smooth transition of power because that is against the law,” he said.
He also urged Malaysians not to fear. “This transition will not only be historic but also peaceful.
“Pakatan’s security advisory council of former generals and police will help myself and other Pakatan leaders through the process,” he said in assurance.
He repeated his warning to the Election Commission and the caretaker government that the rakyat will not entertain any electoral fraud.
“We will be vigilant of all suspicious activities. We will ensure that only Malaysians will decide the fate of our nation, and Insyaalah, we will succeed,” he said.
“To all Malaysians: our nation is a land of promise and fullfilment. Seize your destiny. Ini Kalilah!
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