By VIJAY JOSHI – 2 hours ago
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has vowed to seize power soon, stepping up his campaign against the government as he fights back an accusation of sodomizing a young worker in his office.
Addressing some 7,000 people on Tuesday night, Anwar accused the ruling National Front coalition government of being corrupt, inefficient and uncaring. He promised to set right the problems plaguing the country, including bringing down fuel prices, which were raised by a whopping 41 percent to 63 percent last month.
The opposition will "rule in a short while" and "the next day we will lower the price of oil," he said to loud cheers in his first public meeting since he was hit by the sodomy accusation last week.
Police are investigating the allegation by a 23-year-old male aide. Anwar, 60, who is married with six children, says he is a victim of a conspiracy by a desperate government clinging to power.
Sodomy, even if consensual, is punishable by up to 20 years in prison in Muslim-majority Malaysia.
The government has denied any hand in the claim.
Anwar was fired as deputy prime minister in 1998 when he was faced with a similar sodomy accusation, and spent six years in prison until Malaysia's highest court overturned the charge in 2004. While in custody, he was beaten by police and suffered from arsenic poisoning.
"I went to prison once and was beaten half to death. Do you think I will remain silent now? We will fight!" he said, adding that his accuser was being manipulated by a top politician in the government.
Anwar led a three-party opposition coalition to spectacular gains in March 8 general elections, which reduced the National Front's strength to 140 seats for a thin 30-seat majority in the 222-member Parliament. Anwar has said he will be able to pull 30 lawmakers to his side by mid-September.
Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is also under pressure from some of his own party members to step down.
"The National Front is in turmoil, with enemies from within and attacks from outside," Anwar said. "If the elections had been free and fair, the opposition would be in power, not the National Front."
The National Front has run the government since independence in 1957, and an opposition leadership was unthinkable until this year. Its massive gains are a reflection not only of Anwar's charisma and strategic skills but also of the growing disenchantment with the National Front among the majority ethnic Malays.
Ibrahim Suffian, director of the independent Merdeka Center opinion research firm, said many people think the sodomy allegation was aimed at derailing Anwar's political plans.
"It's still early days ... but Anwar may gain more out of this because of the credibility issues that the government needs to face," Ibrahim told The Associated Press.
Associated Press reporter Sean Yoong contributed to this report.
BERITADARIGUNUNG: When we were small, we fought too, punched and kicked friends and foes. We did for reasons. Sakit hati, panas hati, geram, benci dan meluat. Ramai orang sakit hati, panas hati, geram dan meluat dengan Anwar. Agak saya, itulah sebabnya Anwar kena belasah. Dalam Parlimen orang boleh cakap apa saja, atas stage dengan hailer juga orang boleh cakap apa saja. Dalam dunia sebenar yang real, mulut yang celupar tentu kena penumbuk sebijik.
Yang suka Anwar pun ada, tidak kita nafikan. Cakap-cakap di kopitiam ada menyebut bahawa Anwar juga kuat menampar. Samada beliau menampar olok-olok, main-main, atau sungguh-sungguh dengan muka berang, hanya Anwar lebih tahu. Samada menampar masa kecil dulu atau masa dewasa, hanya Anwar lebih tahu. Samada menampar lelaki atau perempuan, hanya Anwar lebih tahu.
Kita yang lain mana tahu kecuali kalau kita pernah tenguk sendiri. Begitu jugalah dengan kes Saiful, kita yang lain tak tahu, sebab tak tenguk. Kalau kita perlu memihak, pada peringkat awal kita berpandu dengan persepsi semata-mata. Masa PRU12, Ramai tidak memangkah BN kerana persepsi dan dengan persepsi sedemikian jugalah kita bersedia untuk membenci Anwar.
Mahkamah akan bergerak dengan bukti bukan dengan persepsi. Namun pihak Anwar akan terus menjaja teori konspirasi. Mungkin sehebat-hebat Anwar, tidaklah sebaik yang disangka.