By Jalil Hamid
Reuters (Washington Post)
Tuesday, August 26, 2008; 11:29 AM
PERMATANG PAUH, Malaysia (Reuters) – Malaysia’s best-known opposition politician, Anwar Ibrahim, scored a bigger than expected victory in a by-election on Tuesday, boosting his chances of becoming the country’s next prime minister.
Anwar, whose campaign for the parliamentary seat vacated by his wife has been dogged by charges of sodomy, won a majority of 15,671 over his government opponent.
He said he would initiate a vote to topple the coalition that has ruled Malaysia for five decades.
“The message is clear, we in Permatang Pauh and in Malaysia, we demand change for freedom and justice,” Anwar told a jubilant crowd of thousands of people gathered in a football stadium who were chanting “reformasi” (reform) and “merdeka” (freedom). [more]
6 AUGUST 2008, PETALING JAYA, MALAYSIA
This morning the Malaysian Election Commission announced nomination and polling day for the by-election that I will contest in Permatang Pauh. I look forward to the campaign period to meet with voters in my home constituency. I invite all Malaysians to join me in this historic campaign to bring forth a New Dawn for Malaysia as we work together to build a more peaceful and prosperous nation.
At the same time we would reiterate our longstanding concerns about the integrity of the electoral process. To this date, the evidence of phantom voters and ballot box stuffing has yet to be addressed by the Election Commission. The poor handling of the use of indelible ink in the General Elections gives all Malaysians, particularly those in Permatang Pauh, reason to be concerned about the conduct of polling this month. I urge the Election Commission to take this opportunity to restore some credibility to its reputation by fulfilling its constitutional mandate to ensure that voting is fair and unbiased.
On a darker note, I regret to say that I fear an enormous injustice is about to be perpetrated upon the Malaysian people, worse than those actions taken in 1988 and 1998 which rendered almost irreparable harm against the institutions of democracy and the rule of law. While some individuals suffered greatly by those actions, the Malaysian people have been the greatest losers.
Tomorrow I will be charged with a crime I did not commit. The real criminals will, in their efforts to humiliate me and to derail the people’s aspirations for transformational change in Malaysia, hide behind a smokescreen created by the government controlled mainstream media.
This travesty of justice will take place. It will happen with the active support and the criminal involvement of the highest echelons of the police and politicians—including the office of the Prime Minister.
We have been informed that the Attorney General’s chambers has advised against charging me after having studying the investigation papers. Despite its views, some individuals within the Police have insisted on pursuing this case even though the legal professionals in the AG’s Chambers take a different view.
The evidence proves that the accuser lied in his initial report. He has been seen to be working in close collaboration with the police, notably his meeting with SAC2 Rodwan who was working hand in hand with Musa Hassan to conspire against me in 1998. Other witnesses in this matter have been threatened and harassed in order to fabricate evidence. Doctors appear to have been pressured to violate all norms of medical ethics. Senior Ministers, in their comments about the case, have demonstrated their consistent interference in the investigation.
We are also informed that some individuals within the Prime Minister’s close circles are adamant about pursuing this case. Their involvement further undermines the credibility of the case and proves that the entire conspiracy hatched against me is politically motivated.
Today the Prime Minister faces a crisis of confidence. His approval ratings have plummeted since the March elections and senior members of the Barisan Nasional have joined Pakatan Rakyat in droves. The economy under his abysmal management has reached its lowest ebb in decades and all signs point to further weakening. And just yesterday prominent UMNO members have initiated an investigation into his own involvement in corruption and money politics. This is a man under siege – and he sees no way out but to deflect the attention of the Malaysian people with a sham trial against me.
He is now burning the forest to save his own tree!
I have thus far constrained my criticism of the Prime Minister to his failed policies and general incompetence in leading the nation. But now it is clear that his vendetta against those who would seek his early dismissal from office knows no boundaries and will transgress all limits of the rule of law.
I hold the Prime Minister personally responsible for the damage that is about to be done to the nation and to the integrity and dignity of the Malays.
Our international standing, recently lambasted by prominent leaders from around the world, will plummet even further. Overseas investors are already deeply skeptical about Malaysia on account of its reputation for deeply engrained corruption and economic inefficiency. They will certainly be further dissuaded from any further activity in Malaysia. The continued decline in the economy will lead to greater unemployment and rampant stagflation.
I will fight this with the hope and energy of the people who have supported reformasi in Malaysia. I will not allow this cowardly attack to derail Pakatan Rakyat’s agenda for change. Insha’Allah we will win in Permatang Pauh. Insha’Allah we will win convincingly. I look forward to joining my colleagues in the Parliament to prepare for the historic transition that the country is eagerly awaiting.