Monday, April 14, 2008

20,000 defy police to celebrate Anwar's ban expiry

Apr 14, 08 12:48pm
About 20,000 people attended a rally in central Kuala Lumpur tonight to mark the expiry of Anwar Ibrahim ban from public office, a decade after he was sacked as deputy prime minister.

The crowd defied a ban on the event which was held in Kampung Baru despite scores of riot police were deployed in the futile attempt to stop the illegal gathering.

"We have not issued any permits for the gathering. I advise all the supporters not to attend it. The gathering is banned," city police chief Muhammad Sabtu Osman told AFP earlier today.

At about 9.15pm, Anwar took the stage to tell his supporters to wait two weeks on whether he would be running for parliamentary seat and return to active politics.

PKR bagged 31 seats in last month's general elections and Anwar had said that one of the parliamentarians would resign so that the party de facto leader could contest in a subsequent by-election.

In his speech, Anwar also attacked his nemesis, former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad, and accused him of abuse of power.

"He has made the judiciary worse. He is worried that I'll be the next PM," he said.

Anwar also lambasted Najib Abdul Razak, saying that the prime minister-in-waiting was "not fit" to assume the post.
The charismatic politician also told the cheering crowd that the Pakatan Rakyat would soon become the ruling coalition.

New politics of ketuanan rakyat

He said that his coalition will be championing people's supremacy (ketuanan rakyat) and will bring about changes to the economy, education and political systems.

After speaking for about an hour, Anwar was told by the police to stop the gathering - about a dozen policemen interrupted Anwar as he was about to end his rally.

He subsequently told the crowd that he would "lead by example" and requested the crowd to disperse.

Organisers claimed a crowd of about 40,000 had attended the rally. The crowd dispersed peacefully by 11.30pm.

Top PKR leaders, including party president and Anwar’s wife Dr Wan Azizah Ismail, daughter Nurul Izzah, Selangor Menteri Besar Khalid Ibrahim, PKR vice president Azmin Ali and Batu MP Tian Chua were in the crowd. Several DAP and Pas leaders also turned up for the event.

Anwar arrived at the venue at about 8.50pm to shouts of reformasi from the eagerly anticipating crowd.

There was a strong police presence along the main Kampung Baru road. Several Federal Reserve Unit and Light Strike Force trucks were also stationed by the roadside while the unit personnel patrolled the area. People were allowed to move about freely.

Once seen as the heir apparent to long-time leader Mahathir, Anwar was subsequently convicted on sex and corruption charges and spent six years in jail, before storming back to prominence in March elections.

With Anwar at the helm, a reinvigorated opposition seized a third of parliamentary seats and five states in the worst ever showing for the Barisan Nasional coalition that has ruled for half a century.

Now the 60-year-old maverick is once again being touted as a future prime minister, but this time for his Pakatan Rakyat opposition alliance which he has described as a "government-in-waiting".

The sodomy charges were later dropped but the corruption count prevented him from standing for public office until tomorrow.

Surprise in store

Anwar had been expected to re-enter Parliament quickly through a by-election in one of the seats held by his party, and to challenge Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in a symbolic no-confidence vote soon after.

But in light of the stunning and unexpected gains, he has said he is in no hurry to act and will instead focus on building up the opposition.

Meanwhile, party's deputy president Syed Husin Ali had earlier rejected the police objections to the rally, but said PKR had made confidential alternative arrangements for the celebration.

"We will go ahead with it for the simple reason that that area is a private area, it is not a public area," he said of the proposed venue.

"We can't understand why there is this sudden change of mind on the part of police... in fact, they were originally involved in discussions to control traffic and ensure security."

Pressuring the police

Syed Husin said he suspected the government, which has been badly rattled by the unprecedented election setback, may be putting pressure on police.

"They might fear that there might be some strong political influence that this gathering might have on the public," he said.

Abdullah has refused to stand down despite the electoral debacle, insisting he has a mandate to rule and promising to introduce long-heralded reforms that voters punished him for never delivering.

But the opposition and many political commentators believe the coalition will continue to flounder and that Anwar could seize power within a few years, or perhaps even a few months.

"I think they are very likely to form the next government and it's a matter of timing, of when this will take place, whether it's at the next elections or before then," said Tricia Yeoh of the Centre for Public Policy Studies.

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kpaul said...

OPPOSITION TO FORM A GOVERNMENT??? I think this is wishful thinking by Anuar. He may have a honeymoon period in politics - just as Pak Lah did 2 GE ago. However, by the time the next election comes about all the failings in PKR, DAP and PAS and/or their fragile coalition will show. The opposition's improved performance in the last GE is an outcome of the ruling party's weaknesses rather than the opposition's strength (hence the surprise). The win just gives time for the opposition to show the people who they truly are - a coalition of convenience who’s only shared vision is to topple the current government.

Between themselves there are (1)no common/shared vision (PAS has its own Islamic agenda, PKR is a secular party (wile treading carefully on Malay rights issue) and the DAP is fully for secularism and terminating the recognition of the special position of the Malays);(2)too big egos existing within the coalition (all party heads will want to be the Big Head); (3) all parties in the coalition are equal (too much equality can be bad).

Are the opposition so naive as to think that BN is so weak that it will just crumble in the next election???

The BN is not only a political giant but also an economic powerhouse. On top of that - how many Malay voters now (after seeing the result of the GE)think that they have made a mistake especially after seeing the lack of consideration for the Malays (by the DAP) and realizing the erosion of the Malay political power? And how long will this coalition of convenience of the opposition last???

I am a supporter of any party that champions Malay rights (and so UMNO by default) for one reason - that they are the champions of the Malay rights and are the bastion of Malay political power. Because of them - a Malays today can still say "INI TANAH MELAYU". Does any other political party dare to say that they are the champions of Malay rights??? If some other party dares to do this - I will consider them as an alternative.

For that reason alone - all Malays should and must support UMNO. Whether the leadership is weak or you do not like or agree with the leader - do not forget the struggle and the vision of the party. Support and embrace the struggle and not the person.

If true - dishonesty or nepotism or other real causes of dissatisfaction in UNMO exists within the leadership - things will, in its natural course change. It may take time but it will happen sooner or later. There is no perfect person and this world is not perfect. Learn to accept that.

There is another reasons for my support - History tells us if a majority race is sidelined and lack behind in economic and/or political arena, the consequences are devastating. Look at the anti Chinese riots in Indonesia, similar riots in Burma (now Myanmar) in the past just to name a few. There are many other examples.

For those who do not share my views, please take a trip to Jakarta or any part of Indonesia and go to the malls (high end) and restaurants. You will see that generally only tourists and Chinese are able to afford to shop or eat there.

If Jakarta is too far - then I suggest you go to any mall in Malaysia and count the number of Chinese owned businesses to the Malay businesses. Compare the size of their shops. Ask yourself - where lies the economic power in Malaysia??

Also take a little time to look at the new housing developments (middle class and above) and ask the developer - how many Malay buyers are there?? I am confident that they will say that it is much less than 50%.

Then ask yourself what would have happened if the Malays do not have the political dominance when all these are happening in spite of the Malays having political dominance. What if the Malays lose it?? Will tere be riots??? Are we prepared to risk that??

So to all my fellow Malays - I believe one should embrace the struggle and not the man/person. If you truly believe in secularism and equal rights - then no one (especially not me) will stop you from embracing the opposition. But think of the consequence of your support and future votes to those Malays who will feel their effects. The playing field is not level and do not let the ideas of equal rights influence your view of the real world.

To my non Malay friends, this comment is not intended to be anti Chinese or anti Indian. It is meant to highlight the dangerous consequence of the majority (Malays) being sidelined in economic and political arena.

The course I choose is the lesser of the two evils - to be labeled as unfair to the advantage of one race or to risk instability. I would rather take the earlier.

ITaLee said...

@kpaul, i dun agree with ur idea. The opposition have a resolve at least to cooperate to stand against BN.

And choosing government cant be said as evil or lesser evil choice. I believe we all as citizen have rights to vote for the party that we are confident on. For me i rather choose opposition as the current gov (BN)let me down in a lot of cases.

and @kpaul u prefer to stick to current ruling party overall. it is not hard to understand. most ppl fear changes as they may cause unnecessary obstacle like riot u said. But sometimes changes can be good, and newly formed party may not be stable as u have said. But it is the support of the ppl in the country which make the government stay firm.

but are we suppose to let the BN to abuse their power, doing corruption? it is our vote in this election that makes the BN feel the insecurity of their current position that makes them started to act more diligently, putting more effort to serve the country. If not all they do is all talk.

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