Anwar wants PM’s guarantee to leave embassy

KUALA LUMPUR, June 30 — Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim will only leave the safety of the Turkish Embassy in Malaysia if he receives a guarantee of personal safety from Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

“I am here because I fear for my safety, and I will leave only if (Prime Minister) Abdullah and the government can give me assurances and guarantees over my safety,” he told the Straits Times in an interview.

He said he has been told of attempts to not just destroy his political career but also to assassinate him.

Anwar’s decision to seek refuge yesterday at the Turkish embassy came after a police report accusing him of sodomy was lodged a day earlier by an aide.

He said the allegations of sodomy against him smacked of a replay of Malaysia’s political crisis a decade ago, and again involving a conspiracy at the highest levels of government.

The decision by Anwar to seek refuge at an embassy has been described by a Southeast Asian diplomat as a “shrewd tactical move”.

He has internationalised his political predicament, and that could limit the government’s response against his political campaign, analysts say.

Since being released from prison, he has forged a close relationship with Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Erdogan, who heads a mildly Islamic party that rules the country.

Anwar said conditions within the embassy walls were “good”. And from here, analysts say, he can continue to lead the campaign against Abdullah’s government.

Anwar first faced sodomy charges in 1998 after he fell out with his then boss, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Anwar has long maintained that his sacking as deputy premier, convictions on corruption and sodomy charges and subsequent imprisonment were all aimed at preventing him from challenging Dr Mahathir for power.

He served the corruption conviction, but was released in September 2004 after the Federal Court overturned the guilty verdict in the sodomy case.

Anwar said the latest accusations against him represented an attempt by the government to prevent his Opposition coalition from wresting power in Parliament.

“This whole thing is a sheer fabrication. They are using the same script and modus operandi because they know the number of government members of parliament who will defect to our side is growing,” he said.

Anwar added that Parti Keadilan Rakyat, which is led by his wife, plans to lodge a police report today against Attorney-General Tan Sri Gani Patail and police chief Tan Sri Musa Hassan for allegedly fabricating evidence which was adduced during his sodomy and corruption trials in 1998.

Musa led the police investigation and Gani the prosecution team against Anwar a decade ago.

“These same two people who were involved 10 years ago are now leading the police and the A-G’s chambers. How can I take seriously the government’s claims that it is not behind this?” he said.

The latest political drama has raised Malaysia’s political temperatures by several notches.

Analysts say it is likely to spook local and foreign investors already concerned about the country’s worsening political situation following the March general election.

Several political analysts believe that his move to seek refuge at the Turkish embassy could bring to a head the political crisis that has gripped Malaysia in the past three months.

Some say it could provoke supporters of the charismatic politician to take to the streets to protest against the government, just like they did 10 years ago.

And like a decade ago, the government is likely to react by coming down hard on the demonstrators and Opposition politicians. — ST

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