Anwar Ibrahim - Interview with Australia Network

Uploaded by australianetworknews on 17.11.2010

Burma may be the worst example, but it's far from the only country in the Asia-Pacific
with a less than edifying human rights record.
Malaysia, for example, arrests people without trial, censors the press and assails the judiciary.
Anwar Ibrahim, who himself spent six years in jail, is former deputy prime minister of
malaysia and is currently de facto leader of the opposition.
He also counts Aung San Suu Kyi as a friend.
JIM MIDDLETON: Is the release of Aung San Suu Kyi a victory for democrats throughout Southeast Asia?
ANWAR IBRAHIM: What exhilarating news. We've been looking forward
for her release for some time now
but the europhoria
must have
its limits. We are not sure exactly the conditions imposed
whether the march of democracy will continue.
This is not
Aung San Suu Kyi's personal
program reform for
democracy in Burma
JIM MIDDLETON: Aung San Suu Kyi says she'd be prepared to talk to the junta
should the world community now engage with the burmese military
in the hope of improvements
in the state of affairs, encouraging improvements in the state of affairs
with in that country? ANWAR IBRAHIM: Well, we welcome that because I think the positions she takes
is of course very consistent
with ours. She must be prepared to negotiate
with all forces and there's no question of
denying that
but the agenda should be clear, it should not be an attempt to
frustrate her efforts or
use the negotiations
to deter
the movement for reform
JIM MIDDLETON: You met Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd in Canberra. How did he
respond to your appeal to Australia to step up pressure on the government of Malaysia
over electoral fraud and corruption?
ANWAR IBRAHIM: It was very kind of Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd to give ample time for
me to discuss a number of issues.
I welcomed this strengthening of the bilateral relations between Malaysia and Australia.
We did discuss some of the concerns, we the democratic forces in Malaysia have on the
issue, endemic corruption, flawed process of elections and the use of the courts under
the thumbs of the executive to deny me my freedom and to continue to trump up charges.
And I am pleased that he was very concerned, very passionate, listening passionately and
gave me an assurance they would do whatever is possible.
But I would think to leave it to his wise judgement on how to proceed.
JIM MIDDLETON: Did he promise to raise the issues of interest to you with his counterparts
in Malaysia when he gets the opportunity?
ANWAR IBRAHIM: No it's (inaudible) to be done. In fact the Australian government has done
it in the past. It's not something that is not, which is unexpected.
I mentioned to him that Australia is the beacon of hope, is a democratic country in this region.
And what I then suggested to Minister Rudd is to extend this to be consistent, coherent,
in terms of their support for the democratic reforms and agenda affecting the region.
It's not only Burma but other countries that continue with these fraudulent elections and
JIM MIDDLETON: You mentioned electoral fraud but you've got a few problems on that score
within your own coalition.
Deputy candidate Datuk Zaid Ibrahim is alleging fraud in internal ballots is he not?
ANWAR IBRAHIM: Yes. And we said he should submit his point of view, facts, and the electoral
committee will review. And if it needs re-election of those specific constituencies can be held.
But I think what he, his agenda also goes beyond that as you know. He's calling for
the resignation of leaders and thinking of alternative party and using the UMNO media
to attack the opposition.
But specifically I've no qualms or problem about going through the electoral committee
even having re-election in the event evidence is adduced.
JIM MIDDLETON: It does undermine your own case though does it not in arguing against
the government if you're having these allegations being thrown around internally?
ANWAR IBRAHIM: Jim, to the contrary. We come out with specific allegations against the
election commission.
They cannot use some sore losers in our party against us because we have said if you have
evidence, we have re-election. You have evidence, we will call off the specific elections.
So there's no problem about that at all. And I don't believe it is just and fair to compare
the conduct of our elections and the election commission.
JIM MIDDLETON: Your coalition has suffered a couple of setbacks in recent by-elections.
What's gone wrong?
ANWAR IBRAHIM: In Sabah the elections was actually in the predominantly ruling party
stronghold. No-one anticipated that we could win.
We did rather impressively in the sense that we were able to muster, garner enough votes,
sustain the level of support that we had in 2008.
But we lost in the Kelantan small by-election. There were problems of course in the penetration
into the indigenous community.
But I think you are right, this also calls for a review of our strategy. And I think
immediately after the short vacation of the Eid al-Adha holidays the party leaders of
the opposition people's alliance will meet and deliberate further.
JIM MIDDLETON: Why then do you think that UMNO and
its allies picked up votes from non Malay voters in those by-elections in Sabah and
ANWAR IBRAHIM: No, our performance in Sabah in particularly with the non-Malays, urban
group, was quite impressive. We lost badly in the rural heartland, the poorest, the abject
Jim if you go through these areas you don't see this level of endemic abject poverty,
grinding poverty in any part of Malaysia. You would be shocked to see this.
And of course as I said at the beginning of the campaign the poorest are the most vulnerable.
With 200 ringgit they will have to surrender because they're in really difficulty.
But I do agree that in Kelantan they have made inroads among some of the ethnic Chinese
support and we'll have to review and see the reason.
But this is a by-election. You know in our history excepting after 2008 we don't win
a by-election. In a by-election we fight the entire resources of the party and the entire
federal government.
But one final question then
there is considerable speculation that the prime minister Najib Razak will call an early
general election
do you think he will have the courage to do that
Is he in the best position now that he's likely to be in?
I think that they're quite jubilant in their victory in the by-election
and uhm
in terms of promoting his one Malaysia concept that you go toward Malaysia now
hundreds of millions of ringgit have been spent to promoted these
huge banners and
all over the country they reminds you of some of these almost
dictatorial regimes in North Korea all of the face of the prime minister and
install that all over the country and then the huge program of economic transformation
and i think there is a sort of a
mood being created that
which to my mind is a farce, but whether that would then encourage them to hold the general
elections sooner - probably early next year
we in the opposition of course to work on these tremendous
challenges, I would uh certainly appeal to the parliamentarians as I did
to the EU parliamentarians
to be consistent and monitor the democratic uh
and electoral process
so that it is a not fraudulent
Anwar Ibrahmim,
good to talk to you
Thank you Jim, always a pleasure