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Thursday, April 4, 2013
Anwar calls on Malaysians to dump BN, "cautiously optimistic" of WINNING GE13
Wednesday, 03 April 2013 17:00Written by Wong Choon Mei, Malaysia Chronicle
VIDEO INSERTED UPDATE3Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim called on Malaysians to take the opportunity to pick a new government that was honest, responsible and would uphold the trust of the people.
"Parliament has been dissolved and the people of Malaysia finally will have the opportunity to decide on a government of their choice. Pakatan Rakyat calls on all Malaysians to make use of this golden opportunity to choose a new government, one that is not just competent and effective to move the nation forward but also trustworthy and determined to cleanse this nation of corruption and power abuse.
"We ask all parties particularly our friends in the BN to adhere to democratic principles to ensure free and fair polls. We pledge to do the same and to defend the security and peace of the nation and warn against irresponsible elements out to create trouble and mischief," Anwar told a packed press conference on Wednesday.
"We remain committed to championing the cause of the common folk of all the racial groups and denominations. We therefore welcome the assurance by the caretaker prime minister Najib Razak to ensure a peaceful transition of power."
"We also appeal to the security personnel to remain very professional in their task to ensure a free and peaceful campaigning process. And I would reiterate my call to the prime minister to accept my call for a public debate on policies, economic or social, (for him to defend BN) and for me to take the opportunity to explain the Pakatan Rakyat's position."
Change through ballot box, not popular uprising
Prime Minister Najib Razak had earlier this morning dissolved Parliament after securing the approval of the King and briefing his Cabinet. Malaysia's Election Commission has 60 days from today in which to hold the 13th general elections.
At the question-and-answer session, Anwar expressed cautious optimism in wresting the federal government this time. In the 2008 general election, the PR had narrowly missed. Due to gerrymandering by past BN administrations, the Opposition won only 5 of the country's 13 seats despite having garnered more than 50% of the popular vote.
When asked how many states PR could expect to win this time around, Anwar declined to give an immediate response, saying the PR would meet first before issuing an official statement on its prospects.
He also said he believed the people were fed up of the BN, which has been accused of endemic corruption and criticized for pursuing a brand of racist and religious politicking in its bid to cling to power on the back of support from the Malay electorate, the largest in the country.
However, and perhaps to douse concerns fueled by accusations from Umno leaders such as Mahathir Mohamad, Anwar assured that the PR would stick to the rules and expects "change" to come via the "ballot box" rather than in the form of popular uprisings, such as in the Middle East which have all been violent and disruptive.
"We have worked hard and I am cautiously optimistic as seen from the massive response from the people especially from Sabah and Sarawak. That's why I welcome the rather surprising announcement by PM Najib that he would respect the decision and outcome of the election and ensure a peaceful transition of power. For the people, they would say enough of corruption, enough of racism, enough of abuse of power. I believe generally, Malaysians are prepared for change, change unlike in some countries, where it has to be in the form of popular uprising, it will be through the ballot box," said Anwar.
Debate please to help Malaysians evaluate what's up for their future
Anwar also appealed to the Umno-BN leadership to adhere to the "ground rules" for fair and safe campaigning. He had earlier called on Najib to accept his invitation to a national debate, the focus of which would be on policies and issues related to the economy or socially.
"We have seen vicious slander, dirty campaign promoted by Umno openly. I don't think they can deny. Last night in Johor Bahru in front of the former army chief Tan Sr Hashim, they were allowed to use loudspeakers, put up Umno and BN banners, used vulgar words in trying to disrupt a peaceful rally. It just portrays the propensity for violence and lack of ethics and etiquette. That is why I appealed to the BN leadership, Umno in particular, to respect, the ground rules of the campaign."
Anwar was also asked if an ongoing seats 'fight' between his PKR party and the DAP would threaten the PR's chances in GE13. "I don't think so," was his response.
Other questions posed by reporters included the 'Kalimah Allah' issue or whether non-Malays had the right to use the word Allah to describe God.
Anwar also confirmed speculation that he would not defend his Permatang Pauh stronghold and will instead contest a seat in Perak. “My move there is only to strengthen PR’s support in Perak, not to belittle the support of the Permatang Pauh voters."