|Anwar: We’re ready to form new goverment|
|Malaysiakini Team | September 15, 2008|
Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim told a 20,000-strong rally that he had the numbers to form a new government and wants to meet with Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to discuss a handover.
“Tomorrow is the D-day. We are ready to form the government. We have the numbers and we are ready to announce tomorrow.
“Tomorrow, we are ready. But the best time (for the takeover), I tell you, is when we meet the prime minister.
“A peaceful transition is paramount,” he added, conceding that there will not be a change of government tomorrow as he had promised earlier.
According to him, Pakatan Rakyat has submitted a letter to Abdullah today seeking a meeting for a smooth transition of power.
“We have the numbers but we want to meet with Abdullah, show him the evidence and work out a handover because we want a peaceful transition,” he said to the jubilant cheers of the crowd.
The opposition leader also did not provide more information on how many MPs Pakatan has in the bag and the number of government defectors.Anwar will need at least 31 defectors from BN and perhaps over 40 for a stable Pakatan government.
“I believe that the government will fall in the next few weeks,” he told journalists after the rally.
The massive crowd had earlier gathered at the Kelana Jaya stadium in Petaling Jaya to celebrate Pakatan’s ‘Hari Malaysia’ celebration.
ISA dragnet slammed
Anwar, who began his 45-minute speech at 10.45pm, also emphasised the importance of Sabah and Sarawak to Malaysia.
He criticised the ruling Barisan Nasional for pursuing a divide-and-rule agenda at the expense of the two east Malaysian states.
“This is the first time ever a celebration of this scale is being held to recognise that we are one – that Sabah and Sarawak are part of Malaysia,” Anwar told the crowd.
He added that he would declare Sept 16 a national holiday when he takes over the government.
Anwar also slammed the Abdullah-led government of practising racial politics, which he said led to last Friday’s arrests of three people under the Internal Security Act.
He urged the majority Malays not to be swayed by BN policies.
“The Ketuanan Melayu (Malay supremacy) benefitted only the rich and elite Malays, not you,” he said.
Anwar also said that he would reduce fuel prices by 70 sen the very next day after forming the government.
Most of those in the crowd are at the stadium tonight in the belief that Anwar would make an important announcement on the formation of a new government, which the PKR leader has repeatedly claimed he would do by tomorrow.
Earlier, Anwar entered the venue at about 9.40pm to thunderous chants of ‘Reformasi!’ and ‘Merdeka’.
Many Pakatan leaders were already at the stadium, most of them also believing that Anwar would make an important announcement at the rally.
Penang Chief Minister and DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng, when asked if there would be a surprise announcement, merely said: “Wait for Anwar”.
Guan Eng and DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang had earlier entered the stadium to loud cheers.
Many people on the ground whom Malaysiakini spoke to also expressed confidence of an impending change.
“He may reveal the first batch of defectors and maybe on how they will approach the king. I think they will wrap it up and form a new government by the end of this month,” said retiree G Maniam.
‘I am surprised at how fast things are changing,” said another Pakatan supporter at the stadium, Anthony Tong.
The 52-year-old accountant from Cheras said that he would not be disappointed even if Anwar managed to seize power by the end of this year.
“What Anwar has said will happen soon as all the people are backing him. The change of government will happen very soon now,” said Nursikin Bahrom, a 23-year-old student.
“Anwar has promised us a new beginning and we will support him when the battle begins on the 16th… he is our new prime minister and the BN should realise this,” said businessman Abdul Aziz Rashid, 36.
Don’t invite police, military
Meanwhile, PKR information chief Tian Chua said the three-member opposition alliance had already secured a simple majority in parliament and that more government lawmakers would defect later.
But he said there were concerns that the coalition – which has ruled since independence from Britain 51 years ago – would stoke conflict in order to justify a crackdown to keep itself in power.
“We want Abdullah to assure us there will be no repressive force used, like involving the police or inviting the military to take control,” he told AFP.
Tian said the opposition’s push had been helped by the detention of an opposition politician, a prominent blogger and a journalist under draconian ISA.
“Abdullah’s final crackdown made people lose hope that he is ever going to be a liberal reformer, which he promised,” he said.
Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar defended the detentions but said it was a police operation and not his idea – comments ridiculed by the opposition, which said he and Abdullah must be held accountable.
Spirits were high at the stadium, which was adorned with Malaysian flags and posters demanding the release of the opposition politician and the blogger – who remain in custody while the journalist was freed.
At the rally, Anwar set out an agenda to fight corruption and protect the rights of all citizens in Malaysia.”The Pakatan Rakyat government will uphold justice, a free judiciary, a free media and a professional police force,” he said.