Anwar Ibrahim returns to parliament after 10 years

August 28th, 2008 - 2:04 pm ICT by IANS  

Kuala Lumpur, Aug 28 (IANS) Speculation over the future of Malaysia’s Abdullah Ahmed Badawi’s government mounted Thursday as controversial opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim returned to parliament after a decade. Ibrahim, who was elected to parliament in a by-election Tuesday, was sworn in Thursday, triggering debate in the media and political circles over how he would face the sodmomy charge against him and whether he would be able to carry out his threat to remove the government by mid-September through defections in the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN).

In a commentary appearing in The Star newspaper Thursday, Karin Raslan said: “Anwar - whatever we think of him and many of us are deeply sceptical - is looking more and more like our future prime minister.”

Badawi has sought to play down Ibrahim’s victory and the BN’s defeat in the by-election in Permatang Pauh, a tiny constituency in Penang state.

He did not see the defeat as “an emerging trend” or that the political crisis was “at worrying level”, The Star newspaper said Thursday.

“We can still continue with the government. We are aware of the mandate given to us and we will work hard to deliver,” he said in Johor Baru.

Badawi’s predecessor, long-time prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, has paid a grudging tribute to Ibrahim, whom he had sacked as deputy prime minster and finance minister 10 years ago following charges of sodomy and corruption.

Ibrahim could “convince even the devil to follow him”, he said.

Mahathir predicted that once back in parliament, Ibrahim would make “life very difficult” for Badawi.

“I don’t think Abdullah is a match for Anwar. He is going to raise all kinds of issues and questions and will demand and pressure the prime minister for answers. It is going to be a tough time for Barisan,” said Mahathir, a known critic of both Ibrahim and Badawi.

Mahathir, however, felt that Ibrahim would not get 30 MPs to switch sides to form the government. Ibrahim might think he could “buy” the MPs but it would be impossible for him to “outbid the other bidders who have more money”, he said.

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