Malaysia arrests 2 from Anwar Ibrahim’s party for graft

International Herald Tribune

The Associated Press
Wednesday, August 20, 2008

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia: Malaysia’s anti-corruption watchdog arrested two state lawmakers from opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim’s party for alleged bribery Wednesday, complicating Anwar’s bid to re-enter Parliament.

Opposition groups voiced concerns that the arrests were meant to undermine public support for Anwar ahead of next week’s parliamentary by-election. Anwar has persistently accused Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s administration of rampant corruption and has pledged to seize power by mid-September.

The government’s Anti-Corruption Agency said it detained two legislators and four other suspects in northern Perak state for alleged crimes in connection to a 180 million ringgit (US$56 million) housing project and a sex case.

One of the legislators was “caught shortly after receiving a bribe of over 123,400 ringgit (US$38,500) to speed up the processing of a housing project,” the agency said in a statement. It did not elaborate on the alleged sex case.

An agency official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to make public statements, said the legislators were from Anwar’s People’s Justice Party, but he denied the crackdown was politically motivated.

The arrests could be a potential embarrassment for Anwar, who is already fighting a sodomy charge that he claims was concocted by the government to tarnish his reputation. The government has denied the allegations. [more]

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