The tranquil scene in Permatang Pauh hours after Anwar was charged in KL I decided to head for Permatang Pauh yesterday – soon after Anwar was released on personal bond in KL – to soak in the atmosphere here ahead of the campaign. A few more flags had been put up at the entrance to the old town, but it still looked quiet. But that could change soon. On Saturday night, there is going to be another big ceramah, this time in the heart of Permatang Pauh. The stage is set as Nomination Day beckons… I filed in this report for IPS from a Malay restaurant in the old town after lunch – but not before buying some tempting freshly picked sweet rambutans. PERMATANG PAUH, Aug 8 (IPS) – It was a humid, sweltering afternoon here in Permatang Pauh on mainland Penang state in northern Malaysia, the scene of what [Read more]
The leaders of Pakatan Rakyat consider the legal action against Anwar to be “blatant political persecution”; the whole nation is on trial, they said in a statement released today. Wan Azizah was put on standby to serve as leader of the PR Leadership Council – just in case Anwar was denied bail. They also reiterated their full endorsement for Anwar as candidate in Permatang Pauh and confirmed a joint campaign. If Anwar wins the by-election, the Pakatan leaders will propose him as Parliamentary Opposition Leader. The full statement is as follows:
Reports of massive traffic jams around the court area this morning. Hundreds of police in the vicinity of the court. Two hundred reformasi supporters also present. Anwar pleaded not guilty to a charge of consensual sodomy at the Sessions Court and the Judge – to her credit – has agreed to release him on a RM20,000 personal bond without surety. The mention has been fixed for 10 Sept – a week before the 16 Sept deadline! Meanwhile, check out these documents on Malaysia Today, a report and statutory declaration purportedly written by Dr Osman of Hospital Pusrawi. The plot thickens – or should I say unravels.
Yesterday’s blog post was “What happens if Anwar is arrested before by-election?” Unfortunately, we will get to find out now. Anwar is expected to be charged with sodomy at the Magistrate’s Court in Jalan Duta at 9.00am tomorrow. Whether he would be allowed bail would very much depend on the judge’s discretion. For those of you who were too young to follow the first Anwar trials 10 years ago, now you get to see for yourselves what the rest of us had to put up with. To put it mildly, the Malaysian judicial system did not distinguish itself.
From the poll on this blog, about 85 per cent of you believe Anwar will win in Permatang Pauh by a much bigger majority compared with Wan Azizah’s winning margin of 13,388 in the March general election. The PKR, for its part, has set a target of 20,000, which is certainly possible, barring any dirty tactics. After all, Anwar won here with a 23,000-plus majority in 1995, when he was standing under a BN ticket, over opponets from Pas and DAP. But this time, he will face the entire weight of the BN election machinery – the 3 Ms plus perhaps more potshots from the double M (Mahathir Mohamad). What happens if Anwar is arrested before the by-election? Will his majority be even larger? The even bigger questions lie beyond that. Will a PKR win be enough to lure defections ahead of 16 Sept? And at what price to principles [Read more]
On Sunday night, during Anwar’s ceramah in Seberang Jaya, I ran into Abdul Malik Abul Kassim, the PKR assembly member for Batu Maung, Abdul Malik Abul Kassim. He told me that Pakatan Rakyat had made an unprecedented decision earlier that day. “We (the Pakatan) are going into this campaign with one machinery, one director of operations and one operations room,” he said, adding that this would be “the first time the three parties in the coalition are doing this”. This report from the Malay Mail:
Uncertainty continues to hang over what to do with all the electricity from the 2,400MW Bakun Dam. Few know for sure if the undersea cables will be actually laid, given the enormous risks involved. Anyway, the electricity for that dam was supposed to go to the peninsula. So now they have this new plan to build the RM3 billion 940MW Murum Dam as part of the 12-dams-for-Sarawak project. And the award goes to… a Chinese firm. Who is going to use all this electricity? Would that be the aluminium smelter Salco? That’s a joint venture between Rio Tinto and CMS (ring a bell?) And which company is likely to benefit most from the supply of materials for the construction of all these dams?
Show of strength in Seberang Jaya This is a section of the 15,000-crowd that packed the Seberang Jaya Expo site last night to listen to a stellar cast of speakers: Anwar, Guan Eng, Wan Azizah and Husam Musa. The crowd chanted the old battle-cry “Reformasi!” and when Anwar declared, “Lawan tetap…“, they roared back, “Lawan!” with much steely determination.
This is some background info of the semi-urban to rural constituency of Permatang Pauh, which lies between Butterworth and Bukit Mertajam, courtesy of undi.info. PENANG: P44 – Permatang Pauh 2008 Voters: 58,449 Party Candidate Votes Majority UMNO Datuk Pirdaus Ismail 16,950 PKR Wan Azizah Wan Ismail 30,348 13,388 Racial Breakdown Malay: 69.40%, Chinese: 24.50%, Indian: 5.70%, Others: 0.10% PENANG: P44 – Permatang Pauh 2004 Voters: 54,041 Party Candidate Votes Majority UMNO Datuk Pirdaus Ismail 21,147 PKR Datin Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail 21,737 590 Racial Breakdown Malay: 67.60%, Chinese: 26.30%, Indian: 5.70%, Others: 0.30% State Seats / Polling Districts N10 – Seberang Jaya Jalan Sembilang, Seberang Jaya Ii, Kampong Pertama, Kampong Belah Dua, Seberang Jaya I, Jalan Bahru, Simpang Ampat, N11 – Permatang Pasir Sama Gagah, Permatang Ara, Permatang Pauh, Bukit Indra Muda, Kampong Pelet, Kubang Semang, Tanah Liat Mukim 8, Kampong Cross Street 2, N12 – Penanti Guar [Read more]
Just heard from a KL journalist: At a ceremony from 10.30am to noon today, Anwar Ibrahim accepted a stack of PKR membership forms from former MCA senior central committee member Tan Yee Kew and 1,700 others described as former BN supporters. Some 1,500 people packed a convention hall at the Klang Executive Club to witness the handover. PKR had received over 2,000 application forms from the constituencies of Kapar, Shah Alam and Klang but was able to process only 1,700. Tan, who was also International Trade and Industry Ministry parliamentary secretary, quit the MCA on 17 July. She said she shared the people’s disenchantment over the widening gap between the rich and the poor, racial discrimination, rampant corruption and abuse of power.