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 8 Jan 2009

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Malaysia Politics:
Opposition leader renews offensive on government

Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has renewed his pledge to topple the government, reported Singapore’s Channel News Asia.

He had previously laid low after failing to meet a self-imposed deadline in September to unseat the ruling coalition.

Now, on a campaign trail in Kuala Terengganu, Mr Anwar is accusing the UMNO-led government of behaving like Israel. He said the government is punishing the people for choosing the opposition alliance, Pakatan Rakyat.

In the battle for the hearts and minds of 80,000 voters in Kuala Terengganu (KT), the ruling party is seen by some as the underdog.

Its candidate, former deputy home minister Wan Farid Wan Salleh, is regarded as an elitist who operates from Kuala Lumpur, while Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) rival Mohd Wahid Endut is a five-term assemblyman who is popular among locals.

Wan Farid has also received the thumbs-down from former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad.

"The choice of candidate is very bad because people see him as a proxy," said Dr Mahathir.

The son-in-law of Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi has admitted that UMNO faces an uphill task in KT, but he has defended Wan Farid.

Khairy Jamaluddin, deputy chief of UMNO youth, said: "He's an UMNO division chief of KT; I don't understand what the fuss is all about."

PAS considers KT as its stronghold. Its president hails from the state, and three out of four state seats within KT are held by the Islamic opposition party.

Abdul Hadi Awang, president of PAS, said: "This is a crucial poll, not only at the national level, but to strengthen the Pakatan Rakyat, as well as for the next general election."

The claims that the government is acting like Israel may well strike a chord with the electorate, in which 85 per cent are Malay Muslims.

Many have also accused the current government of wasteful spending. For instance, $70 million was spent in constructing a crystal mosque that is located within an Islamic civilisation park.

The opposition claimed that it was a waste of taxpayers' money, which could have been better used to help the poor and solve perennial flood problems plaguing the eastern state.

















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