Anwar to defy police, lead rally

Malaysia opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim plans to lead a rally on Wednesday night to dispute the results of the May 5 election even after police threatened to arrest anyone who attends.

  • Published: 8/05/2013 at 12:31 PM
  • Newspaper section: breakingnews

Anwar Ibrahim (AFP Photo)

"We are going ahead with the rally," Rafizi Ramli, strategic director of Anwar's People's Justice Party, said in a telephone interview in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday. "We have gone to inform the police. The basis of informing them is for them to help with the traffic."

Anwar's gathering is illegal because he did not apply for a police permit, state-run Bernama news service reported on Tuesday, citing Inspector General of Police Ismail Omar. He did not immediately respond to calls to his mobile phone.

Prime Minister Najib Razak's Barisan Nasional coalition won the poll with 133 of 222 parliamentary seats, while losing the popular vote to Anwar's three-party alliance. Anwar in a statement on Tuesday cited the total vote tally in disputing the outcome and accused the Election Commission of "being complicit in the worst electoral fraud in our nation's history."

The opposition's claims of election fraud are "unsubstantiated" and contrary to pre-election opinion polls which showed “significant support for both the premier and his ruling party and suggested they were on track for a victory," Najib's office said in a statement on Tuesday.

The benchmark FTSE Bursa Malaysia KCLI Index (FBMKLCI) fell 0.1% as of 11.04am local time, poised for its first loss since the vote after gaining 4.8% over the past two trading sessions. The ringgit strengthened as much as 0.4% to 2.9665 against the dollar.

'Not Fair'

The Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs, a group accredited by the Election Commission to observe the vote, said on Wednesday that it was "only partially free and not fair." While the campaign period proceeded "without any major glitches," wider issues such as media bias and unequal constituency sizes gave an advantage to Najib's coalition, it said.

A Merdeka Centre survey released on May 3 showed 42% of voters agreed that Anwar's People's Alliance should be given a chance to govern while 41% of voters felt only Barisan Nasional could do the job. Some 50% viewed the ruling coalition positively while 34% held the same view on the opposition. Najib's approval rating slipped to 61% from 64% in March, the poll showed.

Most Malaysians were satisfied with the country's direction with 82% of 822 respondents voicing their approval, according to a recent Pew Research Centre survey.

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