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March 9, 2009

Malaysia Politics:
Opposition leader calls for change in key by-elections

Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim on Sunday urged party loyalists to continue the push for political change in Malaysia and strive for a win in three crucial by-elections next month, reported AFP.

Anwar also said the opposition alliance will continue to fight corruption and help the poor.

"Our aim is to build a prosperous country by establishing a stable and clean business environment that is competitive in the global economy.

"This would ensure that the poorest segments of society including the Malays and (other indigenous peoples) have access to economic opportunities and aid that trickles all the way down instead of disappearing long before it reaches them," Anwar said in his speech, according to the text that was made available on his blog.

Anwar was addressing a crowd of around 1,000 supporters at a meeting called to mark the anniversary of historic elections that gave the opposition unprecedented parliamentary strength.

He said Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak, who is expected to take power next month, would not be able to bring reform to the country.

"A new prime minister waits in the ranks, not as a reformer, but to continue to take this nation down the same destructive path.

"I am humbled by your support and your faith in us to set right what has been afoul for so many years in this nation," he added.

Anwar called on party members to work hard to ensure victory in the three by-elections slated to be held on April 7.

"If you voted for us in 2008 you were a part of history. Know that in the next election your vote will determine the future course of this nation. Don't let that opportunity pass. I ask of all Malaysians who share in this dream to be part of the movement for change.

"Call them to join us in Bukit Gantang (Perak), Bukit Selambau (Kedah), and Batang Ai (Sarawak) where we will once again show that the people of Malaysia are united for change," he added, referring to the upcoming by-elections.

Analysts say the polls are a referendum on the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition, which suffered two morale-sapping parliamentary by-election defeats following last year's general elections, where the opposition seized control of five of Malaysia's 13 states and a third of parliamentary seats.

The elections are also a chance for the opposition alliance to re-assert itself after the loss of Perak in February due to defections, which triggered calls for Anwar's replacement.

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