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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Anwar drops bombshell: Najib assured hardliners new laws to be just as tough

Sulaiman Kamal | 1:55 AM | | | | | | Best Blogger Tips

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Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim has dropped a bombshell, accusing Priime Minister Najib Razak of two-timing the people with a false promise to repeal the draconian Internal Security Act, while at the same time he was also assuring his Umno colleagues that new replacement laws due to be enacted would be just as oppressive.
Last week, Najib had proposed to repeal the ISA and several other emergency laws that have long helped the Umno ruling elite to persecute political rivals and maintain their hold on power. Najib saw the move as a means to shore up his flagging popularity and also build a legacy for himself amid rising calls by Umno warlords to step down.
At a press conference on Monday, Anwar minced no words, warning the public to be wary of the latest announcements. He also demanded that Najib makes public the parameters for the two new laws, saying that the people had the right to know.

"In private sessions Najib has given Umno hardliners assurance that the replacement laws will still be tough," Anwar told reporters.
“Two questions come to mind - when will the ISA be repealed? And what are the two laws which, according to inside Umno information, will be just as strict and restrictive in replacing the ISA? How can Umno do away with restrictive laws when, just last month, it had hailed and defended the ISA? Now following the announcement, you find editorials commending its removal.”
Only wants to be 'hero'
The 64-year-old head of the Pakatan Rakyat coalition summed up the cynicism felt by Malaysians, whose eerie silence on the repeals plan is being closely monitored by Umno especially Najib's rivals, who are expected to use this latest failure to seal his fate in their party.
A move to replace Najib as the Umno president began months ago and intensified following his mishandling of the July 9 Bersih rally. Najib had set the police on his own countrymen in a bid to prevent at all cost the peaceful demonstration for free and fair elections. The crackdown, which saw nearly 2,000 arrests, one dead and hundreds injured, had also been condemned by the US and the United Nations human rights commission.
Indeed, Malaysians' lacklustre response to Najib's latest proposal is a sign of how thin his credibility has become and proof that a recent survey showing a 6 percentage point plunge in his popularity rating was accurate. However, he and his core team of advisers including media and oil operative Omar Mustapha have insisted on pushing headlong with their own plans, making Malaysia a laughing stock to the international community in the process.
During his speech last week, Najib had said the repeal of the ISA and several other outdated laws would be brought to the "next" Parliament sitting, which commences next month. As for the new laws, Minister in the PM's Department Nazri Aziz has said the earliest a paper could be brought to the House was mid 2012. This was contradicted by Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, who said the new laws could be ready before the end of this year.
Pundits say Najib wants only to be associated with the first leg of the plan, which is the repeals portion, so as to be a hero to the people and have the abolishment marked to his credit and recognised as his legacy to the country. However, Muhyiddin, who has all but publicly announced his challenge for the Umno presidency, wants Najib to be responsible for both legs.
Watch out for the next flurry
Chances are high that Najib will make another flurry of statements to delay the repeals, as the Umno supreme council is widely expected to take him to task over his latest mess.
Meanwhile, a seemingly oblivious Najib - in a bid to shore up enthusiasm for his plan - had over the weekend declared the repeals would make Malaysia "the best democracy" in the world.
However, Anwar warned against building castles in the air, saying he was confident the people would not be so easily duped.
“Do you sense any change? I am also certain they are not too na├»ve to consider this as sweeping reforms. I believe the rakyat will not be easily duped into looking at Najib’s APCO-drafted statement and feel good,” said Anwar.

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