Malaysiakini:’Forgotten’ Anwar: Why afraid of me then?
Posted February 16, 2008on:
|‘Forgotten’ Anwar: Why afraid of me then?|
|Beh Lih Yi | Feb 15, 08 11:31pm|
|(KeADILan)’s de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim today appeared unfazed by remarks made by Umno president Abdullah Ahmad Badawi that the former was not a factor in the elections and has been forgotten by the people.“He said Anwar is nothing. If it’s nothing, why can’t they have the general elections in April?” Anwar told about 500 people at a ceramah in conjunction with his visit to Bandar Baru Ekar in Negri Sembilan this afternoon.
Met by reporters later, Anwar refused to elaborate on Abdullah’s statement, merely saying: “It’s okay. I don’t want to get personal. If he said it’s nothing, then I am okay. It’s a political statement.”
He however said Abdullah has blatantly lied to the people over the dissolution of Parliament due to the latter’s flip-flop stand within 24 hours.
“My experience as a minister is that you would normally say ‘well, I don’t think it’s an appropriate time yet, you can speculate’. It’s safe, people can see you are trying to evade (but now) this is a lie and ministers are not supposed to lie,” he said.
‘Anwar is nothing’
He also argued that the 13 days campaigning period was not sufficient for political parties.
“It’s still not long enough. That is the shortest campaigning period in the world. It’s only relatively longer (compared with the period in recent years).”
Abdullah, who is also the Barisan Nasional chairperson, has announced the dissolution of Parliament on Wednesday despite the term of the government only expiring in May next year.
Polling date was later fixed for March 8 – about a month early of the date that Anwar can contest in the election. He is barred from doing so now due to his six year convictions for corruption.
This has since elicited criticisms from the opposition party as a bid to stop Anwar – who was a former deputy premier and No 2 in Umno until his infamous sacking in 1998 – from returning to active politics.
Abdullah when asked on the matter yesterday has said: “Forget Anwar Ibrahim. He is nothing.”
Anwar’s (KeADILan) party, of which his wife Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail is the president, is fighting hard to regain its representation in Parliament as it only holds one seat after suffering a humiliating defeat in the 2004 general election.
With firecrackers and a motorbike convoy carrying the (KeADILan) flags, Anwar arrived at the ceramah venue – located in front of the (KeADILan) and its opposition ally DAP’s election operation rooms – at about 5.30pm.
Bandar Baru Ekar falls under the Rembau parliamentary seat, which (KeADILan) is eyeing this time around while Umno Youth deputy chief Khairy Jamaluddin is among the candidates tipped to be fielded by BN.
Nevertheless, Anwar surprisingly did not launch any attack against the Umno rising star during his 30-minute speech although he called on those who turned up at the ceramah to support the party’s candidate, Badrul Hisham Shaharin.
“If (Badrul) wins here, I perhaps can contest here in April or May (through a by-election),” said Anwar, referring to his party’s plan to ensure his return to mainstream politics after the expiry of his ban.
Touching on the elections, he urged the voters to reject corrupted leaders and said that the (KeADILan) will reduce oil price, as well as providing free education till university, if it comes into power together with the other opposition parties.
Anwar had the crowd, majority of whom were Malays and Indians, in stitches throughout his speech, particularly at one point when he retorted a remark purportedly made by MIC president S Samy Vellu.
“He said Anwar is an ‘actor’ (refers to hypocrite). I am an actor, yes, I say I am Sivaji the Boss,” he quipped in referring to the popular Tamil film which hit the box office last year.
“The movie was about a struggle, fighting against corrupted politicians, judges and police. The story is just like what we see in Malaysia,” he said.
‘Give cash, not allocations’
Apart from Anwar and Badrul, those who spoke at the ceramah included state DAP chairperson Anthony Loke, state (KeADILan) chief Kamarul Bahrin Abbas and state PAS Youth chief Taufek Abdul Ghani.
Loke, who is also Rasah state assembly person, told the voters not to fall for the election goodies handed out by BN during election.
“If they promise this allocation and that allocation, tell them don’t give empty promise, just give cash,” he said to a round of thunderous applause from the crowd.
“BN is just a caretaker government now and they have no power to decide on the allocations because it will be decided by the government to comes into power on March 8,” he added.
Another person who stole the limelight at the ceramah was businessman Loh Mui Fah, who made headlines over his role in the recent Lingam tape inquiry. He arrived with Anwar and was seated on the stage.
Anwar introduced Loh at the beginning of his speech, raising the latter’s hand and called him a “new hero”, with some among the crowd responded by saying “correct, correct, correct”.
Loh however did not express his interest of joining (KeADILan) when asked by reporters.