Sep 27, 2008

Najib more unpopular than his boss

HONG KONG, Sept 27 — Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said yesterday his campaign to topple the government would only be strengthened if Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi stepped down earlier than expected and Abdullah's deputy took the reins.

As Umno huddled in Kuala Lumpur to discuss whether the country's unpopular prime minister should step down earlier than planned, Anwar said both leaders had lost the mandate of the people to rule, but that Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had even less credibility.

"From a survey [it] showed that however unpopular Abdullah is now, Najib is more unpopular. He has a major problem of credibility. Many unexplained cases which does insinuate his involvement in [an] earlier murder case he has to explain, I'm not suggesting anything beyond that," Anwar said in Hong Kong, while in Hong Kong for an Asia investment conference.

"It's not a matter of going to the mosque and swearing that you are not involved. Then you make a mockery of Islam, the Quran and the law.

"If you go to the prison and say to these convicted murderers and rapists, 'if you swear on the Quran you go scot free', then 99.9 per cent would go free."

Discussions on whether Abdullah would step down early would not derail the opposition's plans, Anwar said, denying that he had lost credibility after failing to meet the Sept 16 deadline by which he had said he would have enough support in government to become prime minister.

While he had the names of the MPs who supported him, he said he could not disclose them because of the climate of fear in Malaysia.

"The climate of fear is real. Why do we need to expose them" and make them take such a risk, he asked.

Another risk for Anwar supporters was that Najib would be more willing to implement the Internal Security Act, a draconian law that allows people to be detained without trial for up to two years.

Anwar feared that the powers of ISA would only be strengthened and used more if Najib took power next year. Najib "has not said that he won't use the Internal Security Act — not only against me", he said.

Blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin, an ally of Anwar, has been detained for reporting on Najib in connection with a murder case on the Malaysia Today political website.

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