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Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Malaysia's Opposition Leader Stepping Down ?
By Luke Hunt
Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has warned Malaysia’s middle classes to support his bid for the top job in the next election or risk losing him altogether. Anwar, an astute and hardened politician, realizes that if he can’t defeat the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition this time around then it will be time to pass the baton.
“If we don’t get the mandate, then we should give space for the second-liners in leadership,” he said during an online forum broadcast on YouTube.
Anwar served as United Malays National Organization (UMNO) – the lead party in the current governing coalition – deputy prime minister until 1998 when he had a falling out with the then prime minister Mahathir Mohamad and was imprisoned for corruption and sodomy. He was released from jail in 2004, however, after the sodomy conviction was overturned and quickly returned to Parliament.
Despite retiring in 2003 after 22 years-in-power, Mahathir has remained Anwar’s nemesis. This rivalry is partly fueled by Mahathir’s son, Murhkriz, entering politics as a Member of Parliament. Mahathir is widely believed to be steering his son towards the prime minister’s job.
Anwar was again acquitted of sodomy charges in January amid claims that UMNO’s old guard, who have ruled the country since independence in 1957, were using the legal system to carry out a campaign to smear and silence the country’s loudest and most popular opposition voice. Sodomy is illegal in the country and if convicted Anwar could have faced up to 20 years in prison.
After being acquitted on that charge, Anwar was again arrested in May for taking part in an illegal rally that was attended by tens of thousands of people who demanded electoral reforms. Read more.