The Straits Times
KUALA LUMPUR – MALAYSIA’S de facto opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim is confident he can win over enough government legislators in a parliamentary vote in September to end over 50 years of rule by one party.
Mr Anwar said in an interview on Monday that he would liberalise the economy and cut corruption to win back the confidence of foreign investors if he became prime minister.
His most immediate task however is to avoid being imprisoned on what he said were trumped-up, politically motivated allegations he had sex with a male aide, which could carry a 20-year jail term under mainly Muslim Malaysia’s sodomy laws.
‘I don’t see how they are able to proceed with the case but my legal team suggested that we should come prepared for the worst,’ the 61-year-old former deputy premier said.
Mr Anwar has long wanted the top job in Malaysian politics and was imprisoned on corruption charges after he was sacked as a minister in 1998. He has also been prosecuted under the country’s sodomy laws and won on appeal.
Mr Anwar’s opposition coalition has made a determined push for power since he came out of prison in 2004 and deprived the government of a two-thirds parliamentary majority in elections in March.
It will stage a confidence vote on Sept 16 and needs the support of just 30 government legislators in the 222-seat lower house of parliament.
It hopes to sway ruling party lawmakers from two resource-rich states to oust the Umno party from power for the first time since Malaysia won independence in 1957.
‘We have gone on the ground. We have been meeting the MPs, including those in Sabah and Sarawak,’ he said. ‘They remain committed to the reform agenda.’ [more]