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Ousted Malaysian deputy premier Anwar makes election plea

Date: 23 Nov 1999
Time: 19:53:58


Ousted Malaysian deputy premier Anwar makes election plea from jail

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 23 (AFP) - Jailed former deputy premier Anwar Ibrahim on Tuesday made an impassioned plea to Malaysians from his jail cell to vote out the government which he said had abused its power and was corrupt.

"The power in a democratic system is in the hands of the people," Anwar wrote in an eight-page open letter before the November 29 general elections.

"And this is the best ever chance for us to determine our future leaders," said Anwar, the candidate for prime minister of the Alternative Front opposition coalition.

He thanked the Front for having confidence in him and said persistent attempts by his former mentor Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad to end his political carrier had not dented his confidence or that of the opposition.

Analysts say Mahathir's National Front coalition, which has ruled the country with its predecessor since independence in 1957, is facing its toughest challenge of recent years.

The National Front, which holds 166 of 192 parliamentary seats, is certain to win but the opposition wants to deny the government its two-thirds majority.

Anwar, 52, was sacked by Mahathir in September 1998 and jailed in April for six years for abusing his powers to quash sexual misconduct allegations. He is now on trial for sodomy.

Anwar again said Tuesday he was the victim of a political conspiracy and appealed "with all humbleness" to people to vote in the Alternative Front.

"We are offering a front which is for democratic rule, transparent and responsible," Anwar said in his letter written in Malay. It traced his days in Mahathir's administration and what he said were the circumstances behind his sacking and conviction.

"I am a victim of malicious lies and wicked conspiracy," he said.

Anwar's letter was e-mailed to AFP by the National Justice Party led by Anwar's wife. A spokesman for the party said it was a personal message from Anwar but declined to say how he sent it from jail.

Anwar alleged Mahathir was using threats to intimidate voters and abusing government machinery and the media in a desperate attempt to cling to power. He accused him also of creating a climate of fear among the people.

He charged that while the local media was used to "destroy alternative leaders and political parties through lies and distortion of facts, news on corruption and mismanagement among National Front leaders has been blanked out."

Those involved in graft and other crime were effectively being protected, he said.

Anwar said a key element of the Alternative Front's objective was its "commitment to issues on justice, respect for law, economic development and fair distribution, and collective determination to fight corruption, nepotism and cronyism.

"This is a more powerful and united force," he said.

Last changed: November 23, 1999