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Malaysian Election: Mass Resignations From Anwar Ibrahim's Opposition Party in Crucial Swing State of Kelantan
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (ots/PRNewswire) -
- More than 150 party members of PKR Party abandon Anwar and accuse him of placing self-interest above grass roots issues
Malaysia's self-styled opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim suffered a major blow today when, with less than three days to go before the March 8 general election, a group of 150 PKR party stalwarts including the State Treasurer of his party in the conservative Islamic state of Kelantan deserted him and the party.
The mass walkout, including 11 senior party officials, was described at a news conference by Nor Azman Md Mi, the PKR state treasurer, as a protest because the party leadership placed self interest ahead of the party.
The desertions are an embarrassment for Anwar because he was hoping to win seats in the state of Kelantan, where the race is very close.
Critics in the ruling coalition have accused Anwar of being an opportunist because he has forged an alliance in the current electoral campaign with the hardcore Islamist party PAS, which controls the northeastern state of Kelantan.
At the press conference, Nor Azman claimed the choice of PKR candidates in Kelantan was never discussed at state level, but were imposed on the grass roots party in the state by representatives of Anwar, who is de facto leader of the PKR even though he is currently banned from electoral politics because of a previous corruption conviction.
Although Anwar has been presenting himself as a democracy campaigner to the international media, this is the second time in as many days that some of his closest party supporters have denounced him.
The mass resignations Wednesday followed the denunciation earlier this week of Anwar by Professor Chandra Muzaffar, a former Deputy President of Anwar's party, who accused him of "deceiving" Malaysians by manipulating racial politics and said at a public debate: "If Anwar Ibrahim becomes the prime minister it will be an unmitigated disaster for Malaysia."
In recent days, as the election approaches, Anwar's claims have become increasingly wild. On Tuesday, he claimed an attempt would be made to smear him, telling supporters not to be surprised if reports emerged "linking me as an agent of China, India and the Jews."
The state of Kelantan, controlled by PAS, is a key battleground in the election, and senior government leaders, such as Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi and his deputy Najib Razak have campaigned there several times in recent weeks, urging voters to place their faith in the National Front's moderation and proven management of the high-growth Malaysian economy.
"Why on earth should voters have any trust in the opposition or its leaders when so many of their own members clearly do not?," said a BN party spokesman Wednesday, reacting to the news of the mass resignations.
"It is clear that as the election nears, the more people see of the opposition, hear what they have to say and see what they offer, the more voters are becoming convinced of the risk they represent to the stability, security and prosperity of Malaysia," the spokesman added.
Kelantan has a population of approximately 1.4 million and is situated in the north of Malaysia, bordering Thailand. PKR's ally, the Islamic Party of Malaysia (PAS) has been in power there for 18 years. Kelantan has a GDP per capita of about RM8,700 almost 45% lower than the national figure. Kelantan also has the third highest rate of poverty in Malaysia. Progress in literacy is the third lowest of any state in Malaysia.
ots Originaltext: BN2008 News
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