Malaysia’s opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim concedes that renewed sexual abuse charges may delay his return to parliament but vowed that the accusations will not divert the opposition’s challenge to the ruling National Front coalition. Addressing several thousand supporters on Tuesday night, he assured them that the opposition will “rule in a short while”.
The opposition leader was dismissed as deputy prime minister in 1998 following similar accusations. After six years in prison, Malaysia’s highest court overturned the charge in 2004.
The opposition’s multi-ethnic coalition, backed by energized civil society groups, made spectacular gains in the March 8 general election, slicing the National Front’s parliamentary majority to only 30-seats. Anwar insists he can persuade at least 30 members to defect by mid-September.
Reacting to the “political conspiracy” against him, Anwar filed a report detailing fabricated evidence on the part of the current police chief and attorney-general in the 1998 sodomy case. He will also file a legal deposition illustrating the close ties between his accuser, Saiful Bukhari, and Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak.
Indications are that public opinion, unconvinced by the latest charges, could backfire on the ruling party.”It’s still early days … but Anwar may gain more out of this because of the credibility issues that the government needs to face,” one pollster told AP.