Tuesday 15 April 2008

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

14th April 2008
(Bolding and highlighting are mine)

QUOTE 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
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.

After speaking for one hour, Anwar was told by
the police to stop the gathering.

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

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

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

Surprise in store

anwar ibrahim pc 180208 01

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 andunexpected gains,
he has said he is in no hurry to act and will
instead focus on building upthe 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. UNQUOTE

See NST ('10,000 supporters') on line report HERE

See Star ('thousands of supporters') on line report HERE

Fluctuat nec mergitur

- It is tossed by the waves but it does not sink

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