Friday, December 26, 2008

Pakatan: Enough Number to form New Government

Anwar insists it's for real

Thursday, 22 May 2008 03:32 Admin TODAY - Singapore

A confident Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim met foreign correspondents based in Singapore yesterday and opened the door a wee bit more on his plans to grab power.

Once the former Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister and now torch-bearer for the Opposition has the numbers to make up a simple majority in Parliament, Anwar said he will call for a vote of non-confidence in Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's government.

The numbers game is a simple one. Twenty-nine more seats — that is what his grand coalition called Pakatan Rakyat needs to send an embattled Abdullah and his ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) packing.

But his audience did not seem totally convinced. A sense of expectation mixed with scepticism was evident among the foreign journalists, some of whom have followed his sensational roller coaster political career with professional zeal.

Do you really have the numbers, or is it just good psychological warfare, asked veteran journalist Barry Wain, who is now writing a book on former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Anwar smiled somewhat coyly, then replied: "I've said it on April 14. Yes, we have the numbers." Where does this confidence come from? Not wanting to give too much away, he said it came from reading the mood among the BN backbenchers.

As though anticipating the follow-up question, the man who believes he is within kissing distance of becoming prime minister gave an example: Only three or four of Abdullah's diehards — and not 30 or 40 parliamentarians — rush to his defence every time Umno's top leadership comes under attack.

Want more evidence? Well, look no further than what the grand old man of Malaysian politics, Dr Mahathir, said recently.

Said Anwar: "Even Mahathir has conceded: Yes, there is a possibility of Anwar taking over. He didn't say it is going to be a turmoil, or a disaster or politically disastrous for the country."

Earlier this month, Dr Mahathir warned Umno members to take Anwar's threat seriously. In that conference at Putrajaya on May 7, Dr Mahathir said: "I first wanted to dismiss this possibility but on studying the situation I feel that there is a great danger." With the Opposition now controlling 82 out of 222 parliamentary seats, Anwar said he needs just 30 BN lawmakers to cross over for the new Opposition government to run the country with a simple majority.

His concentration is all on the economically-backward states of Sarawak and Sabah, making regular visits there and offering them higher oil royalties if the ruling coalition party members will defect to his side.

Defending this move yesterday, Anwar said: "We are not giving to the political leaders. Why can't we these states? (These are) oil-producing states which happen to be some of the poorest in Malaysia." Even the deadline that he has set to grab power, Sept 16, is aimed at wooing residents of the two East Malaysian states.

"Sept 16 is Malaysia Day. That excites the Sabahans and Sarawakians. Not many Umno leaders are very sensitive to this fact," he said referring to the day in 1963 when the two states and Singapore came together to form Malaysia.

But with Anwar exuding confidence and with the Abdullah administration looking weaker by the day, what can the latter do to sidestep a looming a checkmate kind of situation? Political scientist Ahmad Nidzamuddin of the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia said:

"Maybe, if Pak Lah steps down, and someone else is elected by the majority of the Umno MPs - not necessarily Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak - and if somebody from Sabah or Sarawak is elected as his deputy, this could be prevent the Opposition from taking over the parliament."

Anwar threw up another possibility: A snap election called by Abdullah before Sept 16. But he was quick to write off this threat: "To me, it is quite unlikely, because it is up to the discretion of the king. And the king will have to be convinced of the basis for such an extraordinary measure just a few months after a general election."

There is one other question: Can he become the next PM since he is still not an MP? And what about his plans to fight a by-election? A couple of constituencies have been identified, but Anwar said this plan is currently in a limbo since he has not been given a clear date yet on when he could contest. "We've worked it out as April 15, based on what was told to me by the prison officers and by the Attorney General's office," he said. "But until today, I have not got any reply to confirm the actual date that I am eligible to contest."

His lawyers, said Anwar, had on Tuesday asked the Attorney General's office to clarify a clear position on his eligibility in two weeks' time. But this uncertainty is not going to stop the moves towards an Opposition-ruled Malaysia, the first in the country's 51-year history. "The decision is to move. Immediately."

If he does comes to power, he wants to push for a change on a PM's longevity: Not more than two terms, like the system in the US. "I don't intend to be active in political life beyond a decade. I think the problem with our society is that people tend to stay on forever," Anwar said. — TODAY

Comment : Bertelur sebiji riuh sekampung,
BN sempat menghitung menampung

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