Ibrahim vows to pull down government by Sep 16 (Second Lead)

August 27th, 2008 - 2:36 pm ICT by IANS  

Kuala Lumpur, Aug 27 (IANS) Malaysia’s controversial opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, who has won a parliamentary by-election, has vowed to bring down Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s government by mid-September. His opposition alliance Pakatan Rakyat (PR) would take over by Sep 16, The Star newspaper quoted the leader, who comes back to parliament after a decade, as saying.

Ibrahim has termed his election in the by-election Tuesday as Malaysia’s “second political tsunami”, an allusion to the outcome of the March elections when the ruling coalition Barisan Nasional (BN) was for the first time denied a two-thirds majority.

The opposition leader, who has earlier threatened to bring down the government, said his victory brought new meaning to the word “merdeka” (freedom).

Ibrahim, 63, promised that his opposition alliance that emerged strong with 82 members in parliament and control of five of the 13 states in the March polls would bring “new hope to the people with its reform agenda”.

“We will stick to our promise that the price of fuel will be reduced when we form the government,” he told supporters after his win.

The speaker of the Malaysian parliament announced Wednesday that the new member from Permatang Pauh, a tiny constituency in Penang that witnessed a vigorous campaign, would be sworn in Thursday.

Ibrahim won by a resounding 15,671-vote majority, getting more votes than his main rival, BN’s Arif Shah Omar Shah who only managed 15,524 votes.

Ibrahim’s win was expected, media reports and commentators said Wednesday, despite his being slapped with a sodomy charge by a former aide — a charge identical to the one he faced a decade back and which cost him his job as deputy prime minister and finance minister besides his seat in parliament.

Ibrahim remains under probe and has refused to take a DNA test.

With a bulk of the opposition busy with Ibrahim’s election, the government Tuesday pushed a bill that aims at making DNA tests mandatory if the court requires it.

DPA adds: “We won! And our victory is decisive and overwhelming,” Ibrahim said in his blog early Wednesday. “And it’s great to be back!”

He was the clear favourite to win in Tuesday’s by-election. However, the astounding majority he obtained has stunned his detractors.

“Our calls for national unity, good governance and a vibrant democracy have silenced the voices of racist chanting, those who profit from the abuse of power and exploit the politics of fear and deceit,” he wrote.

“We have promised a New Dawn for Malaysia and we will deliver on our promise.”

Ibrahim held the Permatang Pauh seat from 1982 to 1999 when he was forced to quit after being ousted from the government and put on trial for corruption and sodomy.

He was convicted and imprisoned on both charges, which he denied, but was freed after Malaysia’s top court overturned the sodomy conviction in 2004.

After he vacated the seat, his wife Wan Azizah Ismail represented the constituency from 1999 to 2008, before stepping down to make way for her husband.

“The people have rejected oppression and they are saying they do not want to be taken for granted any longer,” Ibrahim said to a gathering of tens of thousands of supporters late Tuesday after he was announced the winner. “The people have sent a strong message to the government.”

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