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Friday, January 30, 2015

Pakatan must be bold on important issues even without me, says Anwar

Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim says Pakatan Rakyat must remain a cohesive unit. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, January 30, 2015.Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim says Pakatan Rakyat must remain a cohesive unit. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, January 30, 2015.
Pakatan Rakyat (PR) has to be bold and courageous to make the changes the rakyat want, with or without him at the helm, said Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim ahead of the Federal Court’s verdict on his sodomy appeal in less than two weeks.
In an interview with The Rocket, the official mouthpiece of DAP, the opposition leader said PR not only had to be strong to make changes the people wanted in Malaysia, but it had to remain a cohesive unit despite its internal differences.
Following the 13th general election in May 2013, both PAS and DAP have been at loggerheads over several issues.
Anwar was sentenced to five years' jail by the Court of Appeal in March last year after it overturned the High Court’s decision to acquit him of sodomising his former aide, Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan.
In its report, The Rocket questioned whether PR, which won 89 out of 222 Parliamentary seats in the 2013 general election with a popular vote of about 52%, could continue without Anwar.
"People tend to forget that I was already in jail when PR emerged, of course not with the name PR, but this broad concept of a coalition. So this is not something new," Anwar said.
"Some say my entry to jail may even fortify and strengthen PR, because there will be a rallying point. So I always view it in the positive," he added.
“I am optimistic. I feel there is still hope for change in my lifetime. There is a crack in our country, this racial and religious strife is a huge problem, and if we do not change this now, it will be a backward trend.
“People accuse politicians for politicising these issues but they are beyond partisan politics. This is the safety of our nation; because we have never seen this before, and I’ve been in politics for a long time. If you allow this unchecked there is no turning back, it will lead to an explosion. We (see it) as our duty to save the nation,” he said.
"Is PR strong enough to do that? Yes we have to (be). We are gaining, and that is why I think it is important to maintain the cordial relationship between the parties.”
Anwar said it was time for PR to be bold and courageous at this juncture as there were barriers to break down.
These barriers included the fact that Barisan Nasional (BN) in its campaigns, focused on policies and progress with its Government Transformation Programme (GTP), Economic Transformation Programme (ETP), National Key Result Areas (NKRAs) and National Key Economic Areas (NKEAs).
"Will PR be able to stop being 'asalkan bukan BN' (as long as not BN), and a coalition that is a viable alternative to BN?" The Rocket asked.
“I think you have to accept in the political process, there is always the same principle: those who support BN, not all are agreeable to BN, but they fear change," Anwar said.
"Then there are those who vote PR because they want change, but may not be as supportive of Pakatan overall," he added.
"It is then for us to articulate our vision and present our agenda, that is, the policy framework we have agreed upon.
"There is no party, not even BN, that has presented that sort of detailed account, but it is important that with our limitation of access to mainstream media that we go and break those barriers.
“That is my advice to the current Selangor Menteri Besar, to be courageous and break the barriers, enter the rural Muslim base, go beyond relying on religious authorities or PAS.
"It should be a PR agenda to be bold and deal with the issues directly,” he said.
He pointed out that sometimes Malay leaders were reluctant, afraid, of being seen as pro-Chinese and pro-DAP."
"I think you need to face the issues head-on but at the same time articulate that this is our agenda and it is for the Malays too, and I am sure people can see reason."

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