25 April, 2008

Anwar’s power game goes on

DEFACTO opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has put his credibility on the line by once again claiming he has the “numbers” to topple the government, meaning at least 30 Barisan Nasional backbenchers are ready to defect for him to form and head the next government.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said the government is taking seriously the "threat" that there would be a crossover of 30 or more BN Members of Parliament (MP) to the opposition to enable Pakatan Rakyat to form the government.

"There are reports (of the crossover) but we cannot just dismiss the reports. Of course, there is an element of political gamesmanship, nonetheless, we cannot take things for granted,"

"We have to deal with urgency. We have to take everything seriously, we cannot dismiss it as pure fabrication but as I said there is a strong element of political gamesmanship as well," he said.

While Anwar burnished his credentials, Barisan National leaders from Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi down wards were left denying that no government backbencher was defecting, let alone in numbers that could topple the government.

In a carefully managed media event on Wednesday and, significantly, while on a visit to Sabah and Sarawak, Anwar firmed his position by saying the Pakatan Rakyat, which controls 82 seats in the 222-seat Parliament, would be ready to form the next government by Sept 16, Malaysia Day, this year.

“God willing, we will be there. If not next month, the following month, then if not June or July, (it will be) on Merdeka (Aug 31) or Malaysia Day. I think we should not go beyond that (Sept 16),” he told reporters on arrival in Sabah.

For Anwar to form a stable government, he needs at least 50 backbenchers to cross over and give him a 20-seat majority in Parliament. Otherwise his government will suffer from the same malaise — an unstable govern ment that is easily held to ransom by a clique.

It is not that Anwar is unaware of all of this. He has been hard at work trying to make the numbers and his emissaries have met back benchers and their point people.

Meetings have been held in Singapore, Indonesia and the Middle East — countries Malaysian leaders travel frequently to without raising suspicions.

“The meetings are aimed at finding out where East Malaysian backbenchers stand given the changed political landscape,” said a senior aide to Anwar.

So why is Anwar persistent in saying he has the “numbers” to topple the BN government?

Political insiders say, it is to keep up the spirits of Pakatan Rakyat supporters who have fought long and hard so that Federal power is finally within reach.

Another possible reason is that Anwar is just impatient, as before, and is stepping on it at the cost of his credibility.

Meanwhile, Malaysia’s newly formed three-party opposition alliance Pakatan Rakyat (PR),the alliance’s parliamentary leader Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said in an interview to Chinese language daily Sin Chew :“We must recognise that Islam is the country’s official religion but it is impractical to turn multiracial and multi-religious Malaysia into an Islamic state, everything must be based on the federal constitution,”

She said: “Although it is PAS’ ideology to create an Islamic state, it can only be practiced in the overwhelming Malay-majority state of Kelantan, and not the whole of Malaysia due to the country’s multiracial makeup.”

“The fact is, we all accept that Islam is the official religion of Malaysia, and the three parties should cooperate within the framework of the constitution,” she said.

“The reality is that the Malaysian society is made up of Malays, Chinese, Indians and other minority races, making it impossible to establish an Islamic state.”



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