Anwar Ibrahim to make political comeback | Asia Pacific

Anwar Ibrahim to make political comeback

Anwar Ibrahim to make political comeback

Posted 12 March 2007, 20:56 AEST

Malaysia's former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim is making a political comeback.

Mr Anwar has announced he'll run for president of his party, Keadilan, despite being legally barred from political office until April 2008.

IBRAHIM: Well I've been back for some months and discussing with my friends and colleagues and they have been strongly encouraging me to take on the party role actively effectively as president, notwithstanding the court decision.

LOPRESTI: Mr Anwar there's a lot of discussion about why you might be considering wanting to hold public office when you are barred from doing so until next year. It's a risk you take in defying that ban. Why take that risk?

IBRAHIM: Well there has been an international consensus among the legal sector, bar associations, international commission of jurors that the whole trial is clearly flawed, it's meant to deny me my basic rights. Should I concede it and let it go knowing that the judges will blatantly use and disregard the facts of the law?

LOPRESTI: But by returning to the political fray could you not find yourself embroiled in more legal problems?

IBRAHIM: Yes that's a risk I have to take, I don't think we should concede just because of our nature to tolerate authoritarian rule, the system is repressive, we don't have a free media, you know that, the judicial process is still compromised. You know that we can't even hold public rallies and I can't attend any campuses in Malaysia, do we then surrender and not having the understanding or wisdom to assert their own rights.

LOPRESTI: But why not just wait another year, you've been barred from political office until April 2008, why not just wait another year and then do so legally?

IBRAHIM: What is the legal process you're talking about? This is a legal process determined by decadent corrupt judges at the behest of dictators, an authoritarian leader. You are conveying a very negative message to the public that here you are talking about travesty and now conceding every single decision that they make.

LOPRESTI: Well Mr Anwar you led Malaysia's reformasi movement after falling out with the former leader, Mahathir Mohammad in 1998, and he was the target of that reformasi campaign, he was perceived as corrupt. The current Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi has been accused of leading a weak administration, of failing to live up to his election promise of weeding out corruption. Will you be leading a similar campaign this time round?

IBRAHIM: Yes I mean essentially the reform agenda stays, I'm going in and mean to meet the reform agenda. I mean I would concede that Abdullah made the correct policy pronouncements initially, but he's not able to deliver. Corruption is more endemic now.

LOPRESTI: Well there is already talk in Malaysia that there is a very real possibility that elections may be held this year. Parliamentary opposition leader Lim Kit Siang has hinted that today. If that goes ahead, if there is an election in Malaysia this year that would effectively rule you out, no?

IBRAHIM: Yeah I think that's a major consideration, I've discussed with Lim Kit Siang and other opposition leaders in other parties clearly the intention is to deny me from participating actively or contesting the elections. Notwithstanding we'll have to prepare ourselves and make all the preparations.

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