Friday, April 18, 2008

Anwar ‘ready’ to form government

Anwar ‘ready’ to form government

P.S. Suryanarayana

SINGAPORE: Malaysia’s opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has declared that he and his allies “are ready” to form an alternative government.

His disqualification for elective office ended at the stroke of midnight on Monday. After that, Mr. Anwar told journalists in Kuala Lumpur that the “timing” of his bid to topple Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s coalition government would be decided through “consensus” among the three opposition parties in the People’s Pact.

Mr. Anwar said he would strike only after being sure of “a comfortable majority” in the new House of Representatives, where Mr. Abdullah’s coalition has 140 seats, against 82 held by the People’s Pact.

The Prime Minister, under pressure from within his party to quit for having failed to retain his two-thirds parliamentary majority in the recent snap general election, said on Tuesday he was ready for “a smooth transition,” not a “sudden” transfer of power. It is in the context of his offer to hand over the reins to his deputy Najib Tun Razak that Mr. Anwar is now trying to topple the government, on the ground that a number of ruling MPs are looking outwards for a new Prime Minister.

The Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf), the leader of a few recent campaigns by large sections of the ethnic Indian minority for “equal rights” on a par with the Malay-Muslim majority, is supporting the People’s Pact from outside.

And, with five Hindraf leaders still in detention without charges and any recourse to trial, the mother of one of them, P. Uthayakumar, on Tuesday submitted a petition addressed to the Prime Minister.

Pleading for the unconditional release of all five, she urged proper medical care for her son, now perceived to be seriously ill in detention.

She was escorted to the Prime Minister’s office by Hindraf leader Thanenthiran Ramankutty and activists

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