PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim has rejected the ongoing ‘contest’ between BN and Pakatan Rakyat to label the other as treasonous.
“I agree with you (that this is regressive politics) and I do not share the view (of taking up that sort of argument),” he said today in Shah Alam.
“The issue debated was that of the (Selangor) constitution and the position of the rulers, so we should emphasis on whether this amendment will strengthen or weaken the spirit of the constitution.”
However, he said, he could not blame his Pakatan colleagues for taking up this argument as the label was first hurled by Umno.
“Umno called us treasonous, traitors to Malays and lackeys to the Chinese so (Pakatan leaders) were influenced to sometimes answer with the same language. But if it were me, I would suggest that they answer based on facts of the 1993 amendment and speeches according to the Hansard.
“The Umno leadership seems to be belittling the ability of the rulers to think for themselves, and I don’t think the rulers can be dragged in just like that.”
Asked if Pakatan would make another bid to return the power to appoint the state secretary, financial officer and legal advisor to the sultan as per the pre-1993 Selangor constitution, Anwar said: “Our position … is that we respect their (the rulers’) position as guaranteed and enshrined in the constitution, as we are a constitutional monarchy.
“The power and the authority rests with the people, the mandate is given by the people… (but) there is point having the rulers if they are not consulted as per the 1993 amendment.”
Interestingly, Anwar admitted that, in 1993, he had headed Umno’s delegation to negotiate with then Agong Sultan Azlan Shah who represented the Council of Rulers on the matter.
“I know what happened and I don’t think the Rulers forgot their experience, it’s recent history,” he said.
On another issue, he renewed his call to Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak to debate on the economy, particularly on Pakatan’s 100-day reform plan.
However, he said, if the PM insists on attacking him on a personal level, he is willing to take him on.
“He doesn’t reject my call (for the debate) but he says I will fall sick, or talks about londeh (slipping down the pants)…I don’t want to entertain these personal issues, I want to talk about the economy.
“But if he insists, I am ready, even the sodomy case. I can answer and I want to bring up the issue of graft, murder, stealing someone else’s wife, Port Dickson, all that can be brought up too.”
He said personal attacks seem to be the modus operandi of BN, as evident in the attacks on PAS’ Tenang by-election candidate Normala Sudirman (right) for choosing not to shake hands with males for religious reasons.
“This is not the issue, the issues are good governance, graft, rising cost of living, Pakatan and BN policies and the ability and values of the candidates.
“For (MCA president Dr) Chua Soi Lek to lead the personal attacks is absolutely odd. It’s pathetic… that’s too strong a term, but for Chua to make personal attacks? What has happened to discourse in this country? Confine it to policy. But that seems to be the pattern.”
‘Don’t pass the buck’
Anwar renewed his call for the government and agencies including Bank Negara, the Securities Commission, Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and the police force to probe why Malaysia was recorded to have about RM900 billion in funds illicitly flowing out of the country from 2000-2008.
Malaysiakini reported last Thursday that Malaysia is ranked world’s no 5 by Washington-based Global Financial Integrity in illicit outflows.
“Do a detailed study, don’t just brush it aside. This is something for the finance minister to answer, not something to just pass on to Bank Negara.
“RM10 billion to RM20 billion in leaks is huge but RM200 billion leaking out (in 2008)… to defend it would be atrocious.”
Last Friday, Najib had refused to comment on the matter asking reporters to check instead with Bank Negara.
The central bank has informed Malaysiakini that it will release an official response soon.
Anwar was in Shah Alam after the first of the monthly luncheon talks organised in his capacity as the Selangor government financial advisor.
Today, Malaysian Institute of Economic Research chief Zakariah Abdul Rashid spoke on the issue of subsidies, saying that the rolling back of subsidies on essential goods would hit low-income households the hardest.
He added that the present lot of subsidies are not targeted and need to be rationalised, but this also means pouring the savings into building a social safety net, improving public transportation and public healthcare services.