Anwar: GE13 win possible thanks to Bersih
KUALA LUMPUR, July 21 — Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is confident of winning the country’s next general election on the back of momentum fuelled by public anger over the Najib administration’s clampdown on the July 9 Bersih rally.
The opposition leader told the Associated Press (AP) yesterday that support for his Pakatan Rakyat (PR) coalition has surged due to the ruling Barisan Nasional’s (BN) attempts to block the march for free and fair elections which saw tens of thousands pouring into the streets of the capital in defiance of a government ban.
“We have gained new momentum. There are huge possibilities we can make it, we will win,” the PKR de facto leader told the United States-based international news agency.
The Bersih 2.0 saw demonstrators met with tear gas and water cannons as police stepped in, resulting in nearly 1,700 arrests, scores injured and the death of a PKR division leader’s husband.
This is the second such rally organised by Bersih and backed by the opposition, with the first in November 2007 also seeing police firing tear gas and water cannons at up to 50,000 protestors.
It has been credited as a key factor in a landmark general election held just four months later, which saw BN ceding its customary two-thirds majority of Parliament and five state governments in its worst-ever performance in federal polls.
Anwar, whose opposition pact captured 82 seats in 2008, said he expects Datuk Seri Najib Razak to hold early elections before the government’s mandate expires in mid-2013.
The prime minister is expected to seek a fresh mandate within the year as his administration takes credit for an economic recovery it says is due to the Economic Transformation Programme put in place after Najib took office in April 2009.
But Anwar told AP that “other than slogans, there have been no changes.”
“People are clearly clamouring for justice and democratic rule. The ruling clique is in the last stages of resisting at all cost but I don’t think they can withstand the onslaught of the people and also the historical reality. Even the most authoritarian rule in the Middle East is changing,” the former deputy prime minister said.
Bersih 2.0 had gone ahead with the July 9 rally despite being denied police permission and being outlawed by the government.
The coalition of 62 NGOs had earlier agreed to an offer by Najib to move its street gathering to a stadium but was then told by authorities not to gather in the capital, ruling out its choice of the historic Stadium Merdeka where independence was declared in 1957.
The breakdown in negotiations came despite Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin’s intervention six days before the rally, who sought to defuse tension by asking Putrajaya and Bersih 2.0 to discuss the issue of free and fair elections.
The electoral reform movement has asked Malaysians to wear yellow every Saturday until their demands are met.
Opposition parties are also asking for the release of six Parti Sosialis Malaysia members detained under a security law for “waging war against the King” although a police affidavit showed they were being held for their role in Bersih.